Osteoarthritis, or OA, is one of the most common diseases which affects the joints. Even though it is mainly age related, it can also be caused by factors which are related to the metabolism. Genetics, chemicals and mechanics can onset OA as well.
The disease causes the cartilage between the joints to become thinner. This is mainly due to wear and tear of the joints. As it progresses, the cartilage will even disappear completely. What is left is the bones rubbing over each other; this can cause bone spurs.
The symptoms usually are an severe pain in the joint which gets worse after heavy lifting or exercises, but improves with rest. Grating of the joint while moving it, joint pain when it is rainy, joint swelling, obstruction with movement and morning stiffness.
The symptoms combined with x-rays can show that you are dealing with OA. Medications include:
- Aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. These NSAIDs reduce the pain as well as any swelling.
- Steroids which are injected right into the joint. They can also be used to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. These over the counter supplements can help control pain.
- Artificial joint fluid (Synvisc, Hyalgan). These medications can be injected into the knee and can relieve pain for up to 6 months.
Changes in lifestyle can be very helpful as well. Water exercises are extremely good and applying heat and cold, a balanced diet, plenty of rest, loosing weight (in case you are overweight) and being careful with your joints can all have a positive effect.
Physical therapy to improve muscle strength will relieve the joints as well. In severe cases surgery either to replace the joint or repair the damage may be the only option. I also found that OA occurs more in women over 55 then in men, but by the age of 70 apparently everyone suffers from OA in one form or another.
Yeah, I got it in my back and have to be careful with heavy lifting and overdoing. So far, it is still manageable and does not rear its ugly head very often. I consider myself blessed.
We don't always need to do heavy lifting or overdoing. Sometimes we just have to leave it in God's capable hands. He will see to it and we can rest assured that it will turn out for the best.
There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.