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Posted in 20 by Amelia Grant

Ways to Spot Osteoarthritis


Ways to Spot Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disease that destroys the smooth cartilage lining of your joints. It's not easy. The symptoms may appear gradually, developing over time until the joint is no longer functional. Early detection of OA can help prevent major tissue damage, however, it can be difficult to detect. Some people do not experience symptoms of osteoarthritis until the condition has progressed significantly. These are the five red signs to look out for.

Pain

Not all osteoarthritis is the same. A person might experience pain in a variety of ways. Some persons have a severe or stabbing pain when exercising, while others get a dull and achy sensation after resting and then moving again. Some people are unfortunate enough to have both. Inflammation of the synovium (the capsule around the knee), the meniscus (the shock absorber inside the knee), or the bone beneath the cartilage is the most common cause of pain.

Stiffness

Stiffness does not develop in all joints in the same manner that pain does. Your shoulder, for example, may only stiffen in particular orientations, such as reaching behind your back. Joint stiffness is difficult to explain. A possible cause: When you've been sitting for a long time, joint fluid hardens, making standing more difficult. When you move about, the stiffness usually goes away.

Swelling

Swelling of the joint can range from minor to significant, and it is more common after physical exercise. Inflammatory cells (white blood cells) migrate into and around the joint, causing fluid to build up, leading to swelling. It's possible that some joints will swell more than others. The knee joint is prone to swelling, while the hip or shoulders, it's less likely (and harder to notice). When it comes to swelling, the wrist and ankle are in the middle.

Reduced Range of Motion

You may find it difficult to move a joint through its whole range of motion early on in OA. Reduced range of motion can develop gradually—for example, your knee ordinarily fully extends when you stand and fully flexes when you squat, but you may notice that it no longer fully straightens when you stand over time. Climbing stairs becomes more difficult if your knee or hip's range of motion is restricted. The loss of range is exacerbated by swelling and rigidity.

Joint Noises

Your joint functions like a hinge, silently swinging your bones back and forth. Crepitus, or the sound or sensation of popping, clicking, or snapping in your joints, is an early symptom of osteoarthritis. (The Latin term "crepitus" means "creaking.") It's unlikely to be a problem if it's painless. However, if it hurts, it could be an indication of osteoarthritis. Because of joint degeneration, the pops and snaps could be caused by an abnormal cartilage surface in the joint pressing against another irregular cartilage surface.

How Weight Loss Helps

It's time to lose weight if you have osteoarthritis of the weight-bearing joints—your hips, knees, ankles, and feet—and you're overweight. Weight loss lessens joint forces, so it can lower knee pain and other types of pain. Aerobic exercises like brisk walking and biking can help you lose weight, but it's virtually always more successful when your calorie consumption is reduced.

Why Exercise Matters

When you have joint discomfort, stiffness, or swelling, it's normal to desire to limit your activities. In reality, you should do the exact opposite. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments are all part of a joint, in addition to the bones and cartilage. We can't cure arthritis, but we can strengthen and stabilize the joint through exercise. Slow stretches and strength training, in addition to aerobic activities such as walking and swimming, can aid joint mobility. Make sure you're completing the movements correctly by seeing a physical therapist.

Should You Try Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is the most important component of treatment in the early stages of osteoarthritis, aside from weight loss (if you're obese). A physical therapist can teach you exercises that will protect your joints while also strengthening the muscles around them. A physical therapist can also employ cold or heat therapy to help with pain, edema, and stiffness. Hands-on (manual) therapy techniques are commonly used by physical therapists to improve a joint's range of motion, strength, and flexibility.


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Amelia Grant

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