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The word can sometimes make people cringe, and many may think that they may never have to deal with it. But arthritis is something that could affect any one of us so it’s important that we be aware of the symptoms and causes of in order to prevent it or deal with its onset. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. report having been diagnosed with arthritis. Additionally, about 67 million Americans ages 10 or older are expected to be diagnosed by 2030, as reported by Arthritis and Rheumatism.
WHAT IS IT?
The technical definition of arthritis means joint inflammation, and it is used as a collective term for over 100 diseases that affect the joints in ways such as pain, swelling and limited movement. Within this classification, Osteoarthritis is the most common. Also known as osteoarthrosis, hypertrophic arthritis or degenerative arthritis, Osteoarthritis occurs when the joint cartilage wears away or breaks down, causing the ends of the bones to rub against one another, creating pain, stiffness and loss of movement.
Osteoarthritis doesn’t happen overnight and actually occurs in the following stages.
Over time, the cartilage slowly loses elasticity and becomes easier to damage via injury or use
As the cartilage wears away, the bones begin to change shape, thickening, developing bony growths at the end of the affected bone and forming cysts underneath the weakening cartilage.
These changes within the bone may cause small pieces of bone or cartilage to float loosely within the joint space, adding to the joints’ inflammation.
Eventually these changes within the cartilage and bone are what lead to pain, stiffness and use limitations such as
Limping and other mobility issues
Irritation and pain due to fragments of bone and cartilage within the joint fluid
Inability for joint to absorb shock and pressure as normal
Primary OA: This is considered to be the “wear-and-tear” osteoarthritis that is associated with aging. The older you are, the more likely your chances of development. There is no apparent cause which is associated with primary osteoarthritis.
Secondary OA: This form of osteoarthritis is due to some sort of cause such as injury or overuse, obesity, heredity or genetics, muscle weakness or other types of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis can cause pain to appear in joints of the lower back, hips, knees and smaller areas such as the fingers, neck and ankles. The pain can sometimes come and go and may worsen as the day goes on. However, symptoms may vary from person to person.
Self-management and healthy lifestyle practices can help to reduce osteoarthritis symptoms or delay its onset. Eating a healthy diet and maintaining a proper weight are both especially important when it comes to creating these lifestyle changes. Unnecessary weight can seriously exacerbate OA symptoms and reduce the health of your cartilage. In fact, for every pound you gain, you add 3 pounds of pressure on your knees and 6 pounds of pressure on your hips. Weight loss as little as eleven pounds can help to reduce arthritis pain by up to 50% in women. Additionally, stretching on a regular basis helps to maintain the flexibility and fluidity of your joints.
Osteoarthritis does not have to be a discomfort which you are forced to deal with in the dark. Developing a greater understanding for how this condition affects your body not only improves your ability to deal with it but also allows you to make choices that can possibly prevent its onset.
KEEP THOSE JOINTS HEALTHY BY…
Drinking plenty of water
Exercising and stretching regularly
Reducing inflammation causing foods
Consuming foods rich in B vitamins
Limiting high-impact activities
Consuming foods rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
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