When joints are feeling painful, stiff, or sore, it is important to know the underlying cause of the pain so that the most effective treatment can be followed. Learning more about osteoarthritis can help you determine whether this common chronic condition may be the source of your pain.
What Is Osteoarthritis?
According to arthritis.org, osteoarthritis, sometimes called degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis, is the most common chronic condition of the joints. Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of the cartilage between the joints. Cartilage is crucial to function of healthy joints because it absorbs the impact of normal movement. When the cartilage wears away, there is nothing left to absorb that impact and the bones may even rub against each other.
Joints that are commonly affected include knees, hips, back, neck, fingers, and toes. A common risk factor for osteoarthritis is age—the condition is most common among people who are older than 65 years of age. However, other risk factors include being overweight, having a joint injury, or overusing the joint. Due to these other risk factors, it is possible even for young people to experience symptoms of osteoarthritis.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?
When the cartilage between the joints has broken down, the affected joints can feel painful, stiff, or swollen. The joints may have a more limited range of movement and flexibility than usual or they may make cracking sounds. Depending on what joints are affected, even everyday tasks like walking and lifting things may become painful. With osteoarthritis, the onset of these symptoms isn’t usually overnight. They may appear gradually and worsen over time.
How Can I Know If I Have Osteoartritis?
If you are experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis, consider talking with your health provider about taking the necessary tests for a diagnosis. Your doctor may recommend a physical examination, X-ray tests, or an MRI scan to confirm the diagnosis.
What Are Effective Treatments for Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition and there is no complete cure at this time. However, the painful symptoms of osteoarthritis can be managed with treatment. Here are some of the treatments that are most commonly recommended for osteoarthritis pain management:
- Movement: Even though movement can be painful for achy or stiff joints, gentle exercise and stretching can strengthen the muscles around the joint and improve flexibility, leading to healthier joints over time.
- Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Being overweight can increase the stress on some joints, as well as the impact that the joints need to absorb with movement. Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the pain of osteoarthritis.
- Over-the-Counter Pain Medications: Pain medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen have been found to relieve mild joint pain. It’s a good idea to consult your doctor about any medications you use regularly—an overdose of over-the-counter pain medications can cause liver and kidney damage and other side effects.
- Supplements, Topical Creams, or Gels: Some people have found joint pain relief from oral supplements or topical creams applied directly to the joint. CetylMax tablets and creams contain Cetylated Fatty Acids to support joint strength and mobility.
Although these treatments may not reverse the onset of osteoarthritis, they can help reduce painful symptoms.