Actively Ageing

Osteoarthritis

Alison Ford - Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative arthritis. It is a disease state of the joint cartilage which lines your joints and causes painful inflammation and deterioration.

Osteoarthritis, usually found in elderly people, develops mainly as a result of the continuous wearing away of the cartilage in a joint. It is very often associated with an old injury where the cartilage of the joint was damaged.

It is the most prevalent form of arthritis, characterised by pain and stiffness (especially after exercise), swelling, deformity, and/or a diminished range of motion.

Bone growths or spurs may develop on the margins of affected joints, increasing pain and decreasing mobility. There may be audible cracking or grating noises when the joint moves.

As you age, the water content of your cartilage decreases, thus causing the cartilage to be less resilient. The collagen fibers of the cartilage can become susceptible to degradation and thus exacerbate the degeneration. Inflammation of the surrounding joint capsule can also occur, though often mild. This can happen as breakdown products from the cartilage are released into the joint space and the cells lining the joint attempt to remove them. New bone outgrowths, called "spurs" can form on the edges of the joints, possibly in an attempt to improve the congruence of the cartilage surfaces. These bone changes, together with the inflammation, can be both painful and debilitating.

Some people are affected at a younger age but if you live long enough, you will definitely have signs of osteoarthritis in your skeleton.

There are 2 types of Osteoarthritis:

Primary Osteoarthritis

This is a chronic degenerative disorder related to ageing. As you age, you lose fluid from the matrix of your cartilage causing its resilience to decrease. Inflammation of the surrounding joint capsule occurs and spurs can grow on the edges of the joints.

Secondary Osteoarthritis

This is also a chronic degenerative disorder related to ageing and the changes are ultimately the same but usually more severe. It is usually associated with  previous injury, joint infection, diabetes, hormonal disorders, obesity, an inflammatory condition, ligament deterioration or various chronic diseases.,

  • Regardless of the severity or location of your OA, conservative measures such as weight control, appropriate rest, exercise and the use of support devices can be beneficial.
  • Regular exercise such as walking, swimming, cross trainer work in the gym or other low impact activities, are hugely beneficial.
  • You have to do regular stretching/ strengthening exercises at least twice weekly.
  • Weight loss will relieve joint stress and delay inevitable progression of the disease.
  • Improved nutrition regarding possible ‘trigger foods’ is very important.
  • You must hydrate yourself efficiently.

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