Health Concerns - Arthritis
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What is Arthritis?

According to the National Institute of Health, arthritis is one of the most common diseases in this country. It affects millions of adults and half of all people age 65 and older.

Arthritis causes pain and loss of movement by affecting joints in any part of the body. It often is a chronic disease, which means that it can affect you over a long period of time. The more serious forms can cause swelling, warmth, redness, and pain.

There are more than 100 different kinds of arthritis and many different symptoms and treatments. Scientists do not know what causes most forms of arthritis. They understand some better than others.

Osteoarthritis (OA)

What Is It?
Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis in older people. It affects an estimated 20.7 million Americans, mostly after age 45, with women more commonly affected than men. It mostly affects the connective tissue and cartilage around a joint that acts as a cushion. OA often affects the hands, back, knees and hips. OA occurs when cartilage begins to wear and decay. In some cases, all of the cartilage may wear away between the bones of the joint, leaving bones that rub against each other. Symptoms can range from stiffness and mild pain that comes and goes, to severe joint pain.

What Causes It?
The exact cause of OA has not been determined. In fact, there may be several causes for OA, depending on the joint affected. For instance, OA in the knees may be related to being overweight, while injuries may be the cause of OA in hips and/or hands. Major risk factors are age, obesity, and certain work and/or recreational activities. Genetics may also have a role in the development of OA, particularly in the hands and hips.

How Is It Diagnosed?
Physicians can make a diagnosis of OA based on a physical exam and history of symptoms. X-rays can be used to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment Options
Treatment of OA focuses on decreasing pain and improving joint movement, and may include:

  • Exercises to keep joints flexible and improve muscle strength. Daily exercise, such as walking or swimming, helps keep joints moving, reduces pain, and strengthens muscles around the joints. Rest also is important for joints affected by arthritis.
  • Medications are used to control pain, including NSAIDs. NSAID’s (such as Ibuprofen) are a group of medications used for their anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Glucocorticoid medications, like prednisone, may sometimes be used for severe discomfort.
  • Heat/cold therapy may provide temporary pain relief, while protection of the joints can help prevent strain and stress.
  • Surgery can sometimes help alleviate chronic pain in damaged joints and occasionally be done to replace diseased joints.
  • Disease modifying therapy with Glucosamine/Chondroitin.
  • Weight control will decrease joint strain and help control pain.
  • A new treatment involves shots of hyaluronic acid to the area around the knee joint to replace natural fluids that the body has lost. It can help people with arthritis keep movement in the knee without pain.
  • Copper bracelets are harmless but also unproven and felt to be useless.

Copyright ©2003 content, MenopauseRx, Inc. The information provided by MenopauseRx, Inc. is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health-care provider. Please consult your health-care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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