The most common chronic conditions affecting the joints is Osteoarthritis, ( OA) , Rheumatoid Arthritis ( RA) and Gout.
Osteoarthritis commonly affects knees, hips, small joints off the fingers, big toe, thumb and also the lower back and sometimes even neck.
Cartilage a smooth, rubbery material covers the end of each bone and helps in smooth joint movement and acts as a cushion between bones in normal joints. If the cartilage breaks down, joint movement gets affected. As arthritis worsens over time, small growths called spurs may develop on the bones. Small bits and pieces of bones and cartilage often chip off and and float around in the joint. Due to inflammation, cytokines (proteins) and enzymes develop in the body that further damage the cartilage.
As Osteoarthritis progresses, the cartilage wears away and bone knock and rub against each other leading to more joint damage, excrutiating pain.
There is no cure for Osteoarthritis but medical management along with moderate exercise ( atleast 30 minutes, with stretches to help joint mobility and flexibility) and weight reduction, may help in managing pain, stiffness, swelling and in improving joint mobility..
Osteoarthritis largely affects people over 65 though even younger people, teenagers also get affected.
OTC pain relievers, NSAID’s (non steroidal anti -inflammatory drugs) , corticosteroids (oral or injections) and Hyaluronic acid injections are the various treatment options which provide relief. Surgery or joint replacement such as total knee replacement, hip replacement can replace severely damaged knees and hip joints.
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