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1. What is Arthritis?
arthiritisArthritis is a joint disorder that involves inflammation of one of more joints. Symptoms associated with arthritis include joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. There are different types of arthritis. The most common is osteoarthritis, which is also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD). Other forms of arthritis include juvenile arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

2. What is Osteoarthritis?
knee-arthiOsteoarthritis referes to degenerative changes that occur within a joint. It is characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage. Cartilage is the area of a joint that cushions the ends of the bones and allows for easy movement (synovial fluid lubricates the cartilage). As the cartilage wears down, the bones begin to rub against each other which is problematic. When pain is present, the classic signs that lead to a diagnosis of arthritis include: stiffness in the morning (lasting less than 30 minutes) and increased pain with weather changes (damp weather).

Degenerative changes can be the result of aging or wear and tear, prior injury to the joint, repetitive strain placed on a particular joint (obesity/sports), or genetic predisposition. It should be noted that some degree of degenerative changes (wearing down of cartilage) is normal with age, and that some degree of degenerative changes in joints cause pain or discomfort. This type of “wear and tear” osteoarthritis is known as primary osteoarthritis. Secondary osteoarthritis refers to arthritis that occurs due to a specific causes such as repetitive stress placed on a joint (injury or obesity).

Osteoarthritis most often occurs in the knees, hips and hands. Shoulders can also be affected. The pain and suffering experienced as a result of osteoarthritis often makes activities of daily living such as walking, bending, playing sports, etc., very difficult to do without discomfort.


3. How do we treat Osteoarthritis?
Although there is no cure for arthritis, often the symptoms associated with the condition can be lessened with the use of various treatment modalities which can include medical acupuncture (pain), interferential current (IFC or TENS), soft tissue techniques (stretch tight muscles), laser therapy (control swelling) and rehabilitation (exercises, stretching and strengthening). Recent research also demonstrates the benefits of supplementation which has been claimed to help symptomatically. Physical activity and weight loss are two effective non-drug treatments for osteoarthritis – remember – for every pound lost, you will ensure four times less pressure burden on your joints. Swimming, which is a non weight bearing or in other words is an activity that does not put significant force on your joints, is an excellent activity.

4. What supplements can I take for Osteoarthritis?
Glucosamine and chondroitin are natural molecules found in the body. These molecules serve as building blocks in the formation and repair of joint cartilage and other tissues. Furthermore, these molecules are natual anti-inflammatories.

As discussed above, the loss of cartilage that cushions joints is what makes the joints prone to damage. Joint damage or degeneration leads to pain, swelling, loss of movement and further deterioration.
Certain glucosamine and chondroitin formula’s provide the body with nutrients necessary to maintain healthy joints while at the same time reducing pain and inflammation.


5. Who gets Osteoarthritis?
Despite how common osteoarthritis is, the causes are poorly understood. We understand that the following factors play a role.

Age – The older you are the move chance you have to “wear and tear” your joints. This being said, not everyone gets it.

Obesity – Increased body weight adds additional stress to your joints. for every pound you gain, you add 4 pounds of pressure on your knees and six times on your hips. Furthermore, recent research indicates that excess body fat produces chemicals that caus joint damage. Thus, obesity not only has a mechanical affect but also a systematic affect on causing arthritis.

Injury and Overuse – Athletes and people that use their joints in a repetitive manner causes increased stress on the joints of use. Soft tissue injuries, such as mensical tears or ACL tears, can lead to osteoarthritis.

Genetics or Heredity – Genetics play a role in the development and progression of osteoarthritis.

Muscle Weakness – Thus, it is important to strengthen your muscles!


6. How do we diagnose Osteoarthritis?
Quesitons will be asked in regards to your medical history and symptoms. Next a physical exam will be conducted. traditionally, an Osteoarthritis diagnosis is made only after joint pain and stiffness becomes persistent and an x-ray shows loss of cartilage and damage to bones.

7. How is Osteoarthritis medically treated?
factsThere is no cure for osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is usually treated with analgesics (biofreeze as an example) and topical pain relievers which assist in fighting the inflammation and reducing pain. Oral and injection corticosteriods control inflammation, but are not recommended for frequent or long term use. Some individuals use NSAIDS, which help to reduce pain, swelling and inflammation, however, may cause stomach discomfort. Durgery and joint replacement may be an option for extreme cases.

Facts about Osteoarthritis

  1. Osteoarthritis or Arthritis is a joint inflammation as a result of cartilage degeneration.
  2. Osteo refers to bone.
  3. Osteoarthritis or Arthritis can be caused by aging, heredity, and injury from trauma and/or disease.
  4. The most common Osteoarthritis symptom is pain after using the joint/muscles.
  5. There are no blood tests that diagnose Osteoarthritis.
  6. Osteoarthritis is diagnosed via physical examination and/or x-ray.
  7. The treatment goal for osteoarthritis is to reduce pain and inflammation while maintaining joint range of motion and function.

Disclaimer: It is important that you speak with you medical doctor or pharmacist about over the counter and prescribed osteoarthritis medications that may work for you.

Sources: Arthritis Foundation