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Osteoarthritis : Prevention And Treatment

Dr. Santosh Kumar

What is Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of joint disease, affecting more than 20 million individuals in the United States alone. The numbers are high in India too. It is the leading cause of chronic disability in those older than 70 years. It can be thought of as a degenerative disorder arising from the biochemical breakdown of articular (hyaline) cartilage in the synovial joints. However, the current view holds that osteoarthritis involves not only the articular cartilage but the entire joint organ, including the subchondral bone.

How to manage Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis  is a condition which progresses slowly over a period of many years and cannot be cured. Treatment is directed at decreasing the symptoms of the condition, and slowing the progress of the condition.

What are the functional treatment goals

–        Limit pain

–        Increase range of motion

–        Increase muscle strength

What are Treatment Plans of Osteoarthritis

Treatment plans can involve:

  1. Exercise.
  2. Weight control.
  3. Rest and joint care.
  4. Nondrug pain relief techniques to control pain.
  5. Medicines.
  6. Complementary and alternative therapies.
  7. Surgery.

How to prevent osteoarthritis

Maintain Your Ideal Body Weight

It has been estimated that the force of 3 to 6 times a person’s body weight is exerted across the knee while walking. In other words, being 10 pounds overweight increases the force on the knee by 30 to 60 pounds with each step taken while walking. The force across the hip is, at most, 3 times body weight. Losing weight reduces stress on your joints.

Exercise Regularly and Participate in Regular Physical Activity

For optimal joint health, it’s recommended that people perform 30 minutes of moderately strenuous exercise at least 5 days a week. It’s an established fact that regular exercise has health benefits. Lower levels of exercise can also be beneficial, according to study results. It’s better to get some exercise as opposed to no exercise.

Protect Your Joints

There are several joint protection principles, which if followed, will help to conserve energy and preserve joint function. The advice is quite simple, but you must be mindful of proper movements and recognize body signals (e.g., pain). Good posture and proper body mechanics are important because protecting your joints is a factor in osteoarthritis prevention.

Avoid Repetitive Stress on the Joints

Signs of repetitive stress include too many uninterrupted repetitions of an activity or motion, unnatural or awkward motions, overexertion, incorrect posture, and muscle fatigue. These symptoms usually are associated with your occupation. Try to find solutions at your workplace and avoid prolonged periods of repetitive stress.

Listen to Your Pain

This recommendation seems so obvious, yet people don’t always do it. Learning to view pain as a signal that you are overdoing it and that it’s time to rest requires conscious effort. Balancing rest and activity is optimal for healthy joints. It’s part of self-management to learn not to overuse your joints and to learn not to push past your limits. Consider that the pain is like a stop sign.

Avoid Injury to Joints

Previous joint injury is recognized as a common cause of osteoarthritis. In joints burdened by improper alignment due to injury, articular cartilage wears away and osteoarthritis can begin to develop. Avoid injury if at all possible – and if you do injure a joint, seek treatment immediately.

Founder of Poorva International Orthopaedic Foundation and Head of Department of Computer Assisted Joint Replacement Surgery, Belle Vue Clinic, Kolkata

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