Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and is also known as degenerative joint disease. In this form of arthritis, the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones that connect at the joint wears away, exposing the bone and causing pain. This condition may also involve a decrease in the amount of joint fluid, called synovial fluid, that cushions the joint, as well as changes in the ligaments and muscles that stabilize the joint.

What is primary osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis in its primary stage has no directly identifiable cause but is often posited as one of those diseases associated with aging. Scientific research indicates that chances for osteoarthritis become higher as one ages. This is because as one ages, water accumulates in the joints thereby affecting cartilage protein structure. As a result, cartilages in joints degenerate until eventually they become brittle and breakdown.

Osteoarthritis - Cause

Excess weight puts extra strain on the joints, particularly the large weight-bearing joints, such as the knees, hips, and balls of the feet. Experts estimate that every 1 lb (0.5 kg) of body weight means at least 3 lb (1.4 kg) of stress at the knee joint, and even more at the hip joint. Studies show that weight loss can decrease the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis or the chances of developing those symptoms.

Osteoarthritis is caused by two main reasons: 1) Trauma to the joints and/or 2) a predominantly alkaline body chemistry. If you were to sustain a trauma to a given joint and that body part sustained misalignment and damage; eventually that joint will wear out if specific measures are not taken.

Associated diseases: the presence of other associated diseases, infections, diabetes, and various other forms of circulating arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout

Genetics: having a family history of osteoarthritis or congenital defects of joints, spine, or leg abnormalities

Osteoarthritis Symptoms

- Joint pain in rainy weather
- Deep aching joint pain that gets worse after exercise or putting weight on it and is relieved by rest
- Bony enlargements and osteophyte formation
- Crepitus (crackling, grinding noise with movement)
- Joint effusion (swelling)

Diagnosis

Osteoarthritis is often able to be diagnosed by its characteristic symptoms of pain, decreased movement and/or deformity. Osteoarthritis can be confirmed with an x-ray. Common x-ray findings include narrowing of the joint space between bones, a loss of cartilage and bone spurs or bone growths.

Blood tests may be used to exclude other possible conditions but they cannot diagnose osteoarthritis.

Treatment for osteoarthritis

Acetaminophen (Tylenol): has been shown to be as effective as nonsteroidal medication in treating the pain of knee osteoarthritis. Individuals should keep their dose of acetaminophen to under 2000 mg a day as higher doses could cause kidney disease.

Although there is little evidence for the effectiveness of complementary therapies in treating osteoarthritis, 60 percent of people with all forms of arthritis have used or are using one type or another. If you have severe side-effects as a result of medication, you may find acupuncture or reflexology helpful in relieving pain.

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