Osteoarthritis: No Gain in Pain!


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Osteoarthritis is not supposed to happen to people in their 30s. But the sad thing is it does happen. When she was 32 years old, Nicole Phillips was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis of the spine, the hands, the ankle and the knee. Now she is 47 and has had surgery on her ankle and right knee. She will soon have a surgery on the left knee as well. If all, Nicole had observed the warning signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Though she herself was an exercise physiologist, Nicole came from a family that had a strong family history of arthritis. Like any competitive athlete, Nicole would push herself to the limit, running on knees that were inherently weak, and lift weights with a spine that was simply not strong enough to handle the stress she was subjected to. Nicole admits that had she paid attention to her body and knew what was going on, she would been able to avoid osteoarthritis surgery with proper types of exercise and natural methods of preventing arthritis. Nicole has definitely learnt her lesson about arthritis and she wishes to tell everyone that osteoarthritis does not strike just 60 plus crowd.

Osteoarthritis can strike even 20 and 30 years old; though the risk is low; it is very much there. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, a joint disease that happens due to loss of cartilage, a slippery tissue that covers and protects the ends of bones in the joint. When cartilage breaks down or degenerates, the bone rubs on bone, leads to pain, swelling and limited range of motion. No one knows why cartilage deteriorates, but genetics, age, anatomical structural problems and injury play a role. Though we think that osteoarthritis can affect people over 40, people in their 20s and 30s can also be affected by osteoarthritis, especially if they’ve had a joint injury. Being overweight can add pressure and stress on the knees which can lead to osteoarthritis of the knees. Family also has a big role to play and middle aged and older women with a family history of arthritis have a higher chance to suffer from this joint disease.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis: Mild cartilage damage usually shows no symptoms. Osteoarthritis is most like to show up in weight bearing joints like knees, lower back, neck, spine and end joints of the fingers. The pain and loss of joint function happens only when there is significant cartilage loss. You need to see the doctor or take home remedies to prevent further damage to your joints. Most people think that arthritis pain is just a part of old age, and they will have to grin and bear it. However, osteoarthritis can be prevent from getting worse and if you take care of the problem now, there will not be issues.

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How is osteoarthritis diagnosed? Your doctor makes a diagnosis of osteoarthritis based on a physical examination of the joints, question about family history, past joint injuries and symptoms that you may have experienced. If you are overweight or do less physical work, your doctor will take that into account as well. An X-ray of the affected joint is taken to find out the severity. Blood tests cannot conclusively diagnose osteoarthritis, but may be used to rule out other conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, which is the chronic, inflammatory form of arthritis.

Can I prevent osteoarthritis:? You can prevent osteoarthritis by being physically active, maintaining healthy body weight, preventing joint injuries and doing specific joint related exercises? When you walk, your knees absorb a force equivalent to three times your body weight with each step. So losing out even a few kilos can relieve the pressure of the joints.
What should I do if I have osteoarthritis? If you are in pain, your doctor will recommend over the counter medication (OTC) or prescription drugs. Along with weight loss tips (if needed), he will also prescribe aerobic activity and exercises to strengthen the muscles around your joints. Exercises won’t hurt, as you think; they are actually beneficial. Exercising the joint muscles can improve your flexibility, make your knee muscles stronger and avoid possibility of joint replacement surgery.

Medication can only take away the pain but exercises will improve your strength and resistance to osteoarthritis. Gentle stretches can actually relieve the stiffness around the joints. Stretching exercise can improve your flexibility and make it easy for you to increase your range of motion. You should do stretching exercises in the morning. Yoga can help you immensely because it gives you a good opportunity to stretch yourself, improve flexibility and blood circulation. However, you should also ask your instructor to understand your special needs and talk with a doctor before starting on an exercise program to prevent osteoarthritis.

In osteoarthritis, you don’t have to exercise to get in shape, but you have to be in shape to exercise. In order to comfortably do exercises, people who are at risk or have arthritis should make their muscles strong to build up a range of movement in their joints. Free weights, stationary bike elastic bands, restive bands are some of muscle strengthening options. You should do strengthening exercises by doing light weights and then graduate with dumb-bells and heavy stuff. Aquatic exercises like swimming or even walking in the pool are good options as aerobic exercises because they can help your burn calories and tone your body without adding pressure on sore joints.

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