When your joints are healthy, they help your body move, twist and bend in order for you to take part in your daily activities. Your knees don't crunch when you climb the stairs. Your hips don't shout out and complain as you walk to the corner store for a pint of milk.
Hit with osteoarthritis your joints are so severely affected these simple and everyday activities start to hurt. Stairs become a dreaded task, walking to the front hall to open the door is an occurrence you hope you won't have to deal with today, and even brushing your hair hurts.
The primary joints affected by osteoarthritis are the hips, hands, knees, lower back and neck. However, there is the possibility it could occur in other joints as well. Osteoarthritis is most common in the elderly, and while you can't cure arthritis, it is possible to find treatments to help manage your pain. This in turn will make you more mobile. There are also things you can do to avoid the damage getting any worse than it is.
Osteoarthritis is caused by the simple wear and tear of the cartilage between your joints. This cushioning is tissue of a thick, firm and slippery texture. This is what protects your bones where they meet to form a joint.
Osteoarthritis patients have differences with the consistency of their cartilage, which causes it to break down instead of performing its duties. As it continues to break down, bones subsequently rub together causing not only damage, but pain as well. It would appear that a mixture of genetics, joint injuries and aging are probably part of the reason behind this.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis are:
- Pain: Joints can become achy, or you may feel burning or sharp pain. For certain people, these feeling may get better after some time. If pain occurs while sleeping or you are in constant pain, your arthritis might be getting worse, and you should contact your doctor.
- Muscle Weakness: Any muscles surrounding your joints could potentially get weaker. This is a common occurrence if you have arthritis in the knees.
- Cracking or creaking: You may hear these sounds coming from your joints when you use them.
- Deformation of joints: Your joints may start to appear misshapen, especially as your condition progresses.
- Stiffness: Your joints could feel overly stiff, especially upon wakening in the morning. They could feel this way until you get moving with your daily activities. Stiffness can also occur if you remain in the seated position for too long.
Swelling: It is possible your joints can show some swelling when you have arthritis. This can result in them feeling sore or sensitive.
In order for your doctor to properly diagnose your condition, you will need to give an accurate description as best you can. He or she needs accurate information to ensure your health problems don't stem from another issue or illness. Some of the questions asked will revolve around some of the symptoms mentioned above. With tender and swollen joints, coupled with weak muscles your doctor will be able to determine if it's necessary for you to undergo other tests to determine possible damage.
Once these procedures are complete, you will receive a wealth of information from your doctor on diet, exercise, medications and physical therapy you can add to your daily routines to help manage not only pain but the damage caused by your osteoarthritis. Keep your doctor informed of any changes you may experience.