Osteoarthritis refers to a group of abnormalities that cause degradation of your joints. Your joints are designed to work efficiently, aided by joint cartilage. The abnormalities lead to loss of cartilage, which in effect causes varied health problems, including reduced mobility and damage of joint ligaments. From scientific studies and medical reports, osteoarthritis affects many people worldwide, with around 8 million people affected in the UK alone and a further 27 million people affected in the USA. Depending on the underlying cause, you can have either primary or secondary osteoarthritis.
Causes of Osteoarthritis
Causes of osteoarthritis are varied and include:
- Obesity – Obesity causes many health complications, osteoarthritis being one of them. Being obese exerts a lot of weight pressure on your knee joints, leading to loss of cartilage. This in effect leads to osteoarthritis. Reducing your weight goes along way in reducing the pressure and aiding the cartilage to undertake its own repair. Weight reduction is one of the best osteoarthritis prevention techniques available for those obese or overweight.
- Lack of vitamin C – Your body requires ample supply of vitamin C for various body processes. Vitamin C is also a very powerful antioxidant that destroys disease-causing organisms. It so happens that vitamin C is also necessary for the development of strong joint cartilage. Thus, lack of or inadequate supply of vitamin C leads to a weak cartilage, which can easily cause osteoarthritis. You need to evaluate your routine diet to ascertain if it contains adequate amounts of vitamin C. By consulting your doctor and confirming that your vitamin C level is below average, it becomes necessary to undertake vitamin C supplementation. This is one sure way of preventing osteoarthritis.
- Low bone mineral density – Having a low bone mineral density as in the case of osteoporosis increase the risk of losing cartilage, which leads to osteoarthritis. Sticking to a diet rich in vitamins and minerals is a natural way of preventing the occurrence of osteoarthritis.
- Disease – Certain diseases and health conditions increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis. Such include diabetes, rheumatoid disease, metabolic diseases and hypothyroidism amongst others. To prevent the occurrence of osteoarthritis, you need to take necessary measures to manage such conditions.
- Injuries – Serious injury to any joint can lead to osteoarthritis because the cartilage can be seriously damaged beyond own repair, which may necessitate joint surgery.
Although osteoarthritis treatments are available through medications and surgery, prevention of the same is the best option. Appropriate healthy diet, exercises and self-care to avoid injuries are the surest ways of preventing osteoarthritis.
Effects of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis affects various specifics joints:
- Finger joints – Osteoarthritis affects your finger joints and in particular, the first joints of your fingers (near the tips). This occurs suddenly with mild pain. This is a common problem in women above 45 years.
- Hip joint – Your hip joint bears a great amount of your weight and it is one of the first joint that osteoarthritis affects. This is common in construction workers and the heavy physical workload is thought to be a major contributory factor.
- Knee joint – You knee joints also support a great part of your weight. Overworking them through repetitive squatting is thought to lead to osteoarthritis.
- Spine – Your spine is highly susceptible to osteoarthritis. When affected, your spinal bones pinch surrounding nerves, causing several problems.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis presents itself in through various symptoms:
- Pain – You experience paint in your fingers, knees, back (spine) and in the hip. The pain comes on as a sharp ache or a burning sensation that can temporarily lead to loss of ability. You may also experience stiffness of the affected joints. As the condition progresses, you will experience pain even while resting.
- Water retention – You are likely to experience water retention particularly on your knees. You experience swelling with pain.