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Is This Pain Osteoarthritis?

Today 27 million Americans are affected by the loss of joint function from osteoarthritis (OA). It is a degenerative joint disease caused by the wearing down of protective tissues at the end of the bones (cartilage) and inflammation. It’s also known as osteoarthrosis and degenerative arthritis.

As you age, the cartilage that cushions your joints wears down, causing the bones to rub together. This bone-on-bone contact can cause inflammation in the joints. There is currently no cure for osteoarthritis, and the symptoms usually worsen over time. Current available therapies can help control the inflammation. Doctors recommend an active lifestyle and a healthy diet to help manage symptoms.

How Does Osteoarthritis Affect People?

Some young people are affected by this disease after an accident, or in connection with another joint condition. It is typically found among more females than males. Most osteoarthritis patients are 40-50 years of age.

Inflammation of tissue around joints is a common affect of osteoarthritis. Another product of osteoarthritis may be bone growth around the edges of joints. Osteoarthritis may also result in damaged cartilage and difficulty or pain associated with joint movements.

What Parts of the Body Does Osteoarthritis Affect?

The muscular joint pain from osteoarthritis can strike any joint in the body. However common pain areas are:

  • Neck
  • Hips
  • Lower Back
  • Knees
  • Hands

While many parts of the body may be affected, most commons areas are knees, hips and hands.

How Can I Identify Osteoarthritis?

It usually manifests itself with the following symptoms:

  • Problems moving joints
  • Joints feel larger than normal
  • Warmth in joints
  • Tenderness in joins
  • Diminishing muscle bulk
  • Motion is more difficult
  • Grating, cracking or popping in affected joints
  • Stiffness
  • Pain

Specifically in the knees, it can appear as:

  • Pain in knees walking up or down hills
  • Knees lock into position, making it difficult to straighten leg
  • Knees may make a grating sound when used.

Specifically in the hands and fingers, it can appear as:

  • The middle joint of the fingers are stiff, swollen or painful
  • The top of the finger close to the nail has pain
  • The base of the thumb has pain
  • Bumps develop on the finger joints
  • Affected joints on the finger may bend slightly sideways
  • Fluid filled lumps may develop on the back of the fingers
  • Writing, typing or opening bottles may be painful.

Specifically in the hips, it can appear as:

  • Pain in the hips from any movement of the hip joint.
  • This may include standing up from a chair, or bending over, or exiting a vehicle.
  • Many people feel osteoarthritis pain in the hips while walking.
  • As osteoarthritis progresses, some patients even feel hip pain while resting.

Usually the symptoms begin slowly and gradually increase with time. In some cases, people with this disease have no symptoms at all.

If you have stiffness or swelling that is persisting for more than a couple weeks, you should see a doctor. While this joint disease can’t be cured, there are pain treatments and therapies available.

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