What is Osteoarthritis? Everything You Need to Know

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a popular form of arthritis affecting millions of patients worldwide. It’s sometimes referred to as degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” of the joints. OA typically affects the entire joint, including the joint linings, the cartilage, the adjacent bones, as well as the ligaments. 

While osteoarthritis is commonly associated with aged patients, younger people can also suffer from this condition. It’s a form of arthritic condition, typically derived from the Greek words arthro-, meaning “joint,” and -itis, meaning “inflammation.”

There are various ways to manage osteoarthritis, although joint damage might be irreversible. Maintaining the recommended weight, an active lifestyle, taking appropriate treatments, and physical therapy can help minimize the progress of the disease and alleviate pain and joint discomfort. 

Osteoarthritis Signs and Symptoms

Osteoarthritis symptoms usually develop gradually and become worse over time. Often, the signs and symptoms might include: 

  • Extreme joint pain from the affected joints after prolonged movements 
  • Noticeable joint stiffness after a long period of inactivity
  • A feeling of tenderness after pressure application on the affected joint
  • Poor flexibility of the joint in its full range of motion
  • A grating sensation that produces a crackling or popping sound in the joints
  • Bone spurs that feel like hardened lumps around affected joints
  • Swelling stemming from soft joint tissue inflammation 

Over time, people suffering from osteoporosis experience joint degeneration and underlying bone deterioration. In turn, this results in swelling that causes joint pain and stiffness. In severe conditions, it can cause reduced joint function and subsequent disability, preventing people from performing their daily tasks efficiently.

How Weather Might Affect Joints

Researchers have conducted numerous studies on arthritic pain and its connection to available weather conditions. Often, arthritic joints chronically swoll almost daily and might change due to overuse and even weather changes. Here’s why: 

Individuals with arthritis tend to be more sensitive to barometric pressure changes. Consequently, this alters the pressure exerted on the human body. Generally, reduced pressure results in decreased fluid pressure on the body, causing more than normal joint swelling. The patient might experience more joint pain with the increased inflammation.

So, what should you do if this happens?

Ideally, movement should be your top priority. Moving your joints helps increase blood flow circulating in the body. Because of this, the body can process and reduce joint swelling. Additionally, active joint movement increases hyaluronic acid, a natural lubricant in joints. While any movement with swollen joints might come with some pain and discomfort at first, it pays off dividends with reduced pain later on. 

Osteoarthritis Treatment

The primary goals for OA treatments are to relieve your pain, ensure joint flexibility, and proper function to keep you moving. While there is no known cure for osteoarthritis, physicians often treat the condition’s symptoms using various medical approaches. They might include weight loss programs, regular exercise, and physical therapy

Your doctor might also recommend over-the-counter pain relievers and prescription drugs, including oral pain relievers, topical pain relievers, Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), and Corticosteroids. On the other hand, surgeries might be recommended if other forms of treatments fail to prove effective. On top of these treatment options, patients can manage their OA with self-management techniques to reduce pain and potential disability.

Get Osteoarthritis Help from the Professionals

At Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehab, physicians use PT to help decrease arthritic swelling and develop a low-risk plan to improve joint stability and natural movement. Pool therapy is highly essential as the pressure of the water (hydrostatic pressure) is very similar to a day with high barometric pressure which means less pain and joint swelling while exercising.

For more information, call 5702082787 or email cawleyptfrank@gmail.com.