Impacting 30 million men and women within the U.S. alone, osteoarthritis is a debilitating and painful condition that results from the wearing away of cartilage, causing friction within the joints as unprotected bones rub against each other. While it can happen in virtually any joint, it is most prevalent in the hands, hips, knees, lower back, and neck.
Because it’s so common, it is important for all of us to understand the fundamentals of osteoarthritis and what to do in the event that you or someone you love is diagnosed. The following important information can help.
- What is the cause of osteoarthritis? Despite the fact that a specific cause is not known, it more commonly impacts older adults and those whose bodies are not able to fix joint tissue.
- Am I at an increased risk? There are numerous risk factors:
- Age (most common in those over age 40)
- Trauma or overuse of a joint
- Gender (more common in females than males)
- Occupation (people performing repetitive tasks)
- Specific health conditions (particularly other types of arthritis, joint or cartilage abnormalities, misalignment of the ankle, knee, or hip, bone diseases)
- What are osteoarthritis symptoms? In the beginning, there may be no noticeable symptoms, but as osteoarthritis becomes more serious, signs range from stiffness, swelling, and pain that is more severe when the joint has been at rest for a period of time, along with soreness, warmth, and trouble moving the joint, and/or a cracking sound once the joint is moved.
- How will the physician diagnose osteoarthritis? The physician’s evaluation will incorporate tests to exclude other potential causes for the pain and swelling inherent in osteoarthritis, including x-rays, MRIs, blood and joint fluid tests.
- What treatments are available? While there is no cure or treatment to counter the damage resulting from osteoarthritis, symptoms are usually alleviated through pain medications, physical therapy and exercise, lifestyle changes, assistive devices, and/or surgery.
- Can vitamin supplements help? While some research reports have shown that individuals with an insufficient intake of vitamins C, D and K can create an additional danger of being diagnosed with osteoarthritis, the American College of Rheumatology has concluded that taking supplements of these vitamins, along with calcium and omega-3 fatty acids, has not been demonstrated to be safe or effective. It is crucial for you to always remember to check with a medical professional before you take any supplements.
- Assistance with light housework, laundry, as well as other tasks which are challenging or lead to pain
- Planning and preparing healthy, nutritious meals
- Providing motivation and encouragement to take part in physician-recommended exercises
- Supplying transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and procedures
- Picking up prescriptions, grocery shopping, and running other errands
- And many more
Contact us at 361-643-2323 for more helpful resources related to osteoarthritis as well as other conditions common to aging, and to ask about a free in-home consultation for additional details on how our highly skilled, fully trained and knowledgeable caregivers providing Portland senior care that can improve quality of life for a senior you love. Visit our Service Area page to view a full list of the areas we serve.