The Centers for Disease Control, reports that, osteoarthritis affects more than 30 million adults. Typically, osteoarthritis occurs in older individuals; however, younger people who have suffered joint injuries can suffer from it. Osteoarthritis occurs when the tissues that protect the ends of the joints become damaged. When this occurs, the bones rub together rather than moving smoothly. This rubbing leads to pain, decreased range of motion and stiffness. Over time, this rubbing of the bones can change the shape of the joint, causing further damage. Bone spurs can grow on the ends of joints and bits of cartilage and bone can break off and invade the joint spaces.
Risk factors for osteoarthritis
There are a number of things that can increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis. These risk factors include:
• Overuse or injury of joints – Repetitive stress and injury of a joint can cause damage to the joint and lead to osteoarthritis.
• Age – As you age, the risk of developing osteoarthritis increases.
• Sex – Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than men.
• Being overweight or obese – When you are overweight, extra stress will be placed on weight-bearing joints, including the knees and hips.
• Genetics – If you have an immediate family member with osteoarthritis, your risk of developing osteoarthritis increases.
Seven warning signs of osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis comes with a host of warning signs. If you are experiencing any of these warning signs, it is important to act quickly as you can minimize the damage caused by osteoarthritis. Let’s take a look at each warning sign and what you should do.
1. Joint pain – One of the most common warning signs of osteoarthritis is joint pain. If you develop sudden or gradual joint pain that persists, the pain resolves itself after resting, or the joint pain gets worse with activity, it is time to visit your doctor. There are many ways to reduce osteoarthritis pain, including using a glucosamine supplement, resting as much as possible and icing the joint.
2. Joint stiffness – Joint stiffness often occurs after periods of inactivity like sitting for extended periods of time or upon waking. Joint stiffness typically lasts a short time, up to 30 minutes. Daily stretching, cardiovascular and strength training exercises can help to reduce joint stiffness.
3. Fatigue – Many people who suffer from osteoarthritis experience fatigue. When you experience joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation, it can cause the body to work harder, which can result in excessive fatigue. Furthermore, when you suffer from osteoarthritis, you do not rest well. Try resting throughout the day if you are not getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Resting will take the pressure off your joints and give your body time to heal.
4. Grinding and popping sounds – Osteoarthritis sufferers often experience popping or grinding sounds when the affected joint is moved. This grinding and popping are due to the bones in the joint rubbing together. Joints have a covering over the end of the bones to help the joint move fluidly. When this covering becomes damaged, the joint does not glide smoothly, resulting in popping and grinding sounds.
5. Decreased range of motion – When joints become damaged, osteoarthritis sufferers can experience a decreased range of motion and a loss of flexibility. Additionally, osteoarthritis causes inflammation. When swelling occurs around the joints, your range of motion can decrease, and you will not be able to perform your daily activities as easily.
6. Related pain – When you suffer from joint stiffness, joint instability, joint pain and decreased range of motion, you may overcompensate by changing the way you walk and perform other daily activities. For example, if you have osteoarthritis in your left knee, you may begin favoring it and putting more weight on your right knee. This change in your gait can result in pain in other areas of your body, including your right knee and back.
7. Joint instability – The National Institutes of Health reports that osteoarthritis affects approximately 10 percent of those aged 60 years and older. Osteoarthritis damages the joints and results in joint instability. Joint instability occurs when the joints, cartilage, muscles, and tendons become worn and damaged. Joint instability can cause the joint to function improperly. For example, if the knee joint becomes unstable, it may try to bend backward or sideways, resulting in further damage to the tendons, cartilage, and muscles.
Osteoarthritis is a debilitating condition. It occurs when the tissues covering the joints become damaged due to wear and tear, inflammation and past injuries. If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned warning signs, visit your doctor. There are many things that you can do to limit the damage to your joints, including weight loss, getting plenty of rest, exercise and taking a glucosamine supplement.