Osteoarthritis HANDBOOK

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1 THE Osteoarthritis HANDBOOK CreakyJoints is the hippest community of more than 75,000 people with all forms of arthritis! Visit us at CreakyJoints.org.

2 Osteoarthritis can occur at any age, and just about everybody has some degree of osteoarthritis by age 60. About Osteoarthritis Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease, degenerative arthritis or more plainly, wear and tear arthritis, is the most common form of arthritis. It is associated with the breakdown of cartilage in the joints, primarily in the hands, neck, spine, hips and knees. Osteoarthritis can get worse over time; as the cartilage wears down, bones can be exposed and start rubbing against each other. Osteoarthritis can occur at any age, and is most common after age 65. In fact, just about everybody has some degree of osteoarthritis in one or more joints by age 60. It s probably responsible for that limp when you walk or that difficulty going up and down the stairs. There is no cure but a number of treatments can slow the progression of the disease, improve joint function and ease pain.

3 Osteoarthritis Symptoms Osteoarthritis symptoms can range from mild to very severe and include joint aching and soreness, tenderness when pressure is applied, stiffness, loss of flexibility, grating sensation and bone spurs from bone rubbing on bone. The disorder most often affects the hands and weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, feet and the back, but can affect almost any joint in the body. Women are more commonly affected than men. Most people first begin to notice pain and stiffness in the affected joints after prolonged sitting or when first getting out of bed in the morning. The pain tends to worsen as the day goes on with increased activity, and lessens with rest. In cases of osteoarthritis in the spine, nerves may be affected which can cause shooting pain, pins and needle sensations or weakness in the arms and legs. Osteoarthritis symptoms include: joint aching and soreness tenderness when pressure is applied stiffness loss of flexibility grating sensation bone spurs Osteoarthritis most often affects: HANDS KNEE HIPS FEET BACK

4 Many people age 45 and over first notice osteoarthritis pain in their knee. Osteoarthritis Pain People with osteoarthritis feel joint aches and soreness, especially with movement. Osteoarthritis pain can range from very mild to very severe, and is usually characterized by discomfort when you get up from a seated position or when you first get out of bed, but over time it can become constant. For many people age 45 and over, they first notice osteoarthritis pain in their knee, especially when using stairs or after standing and walking. This pain tends to worsen as the day goes on and improves with rest. It s common to notice sudden catching or giving way in one or both knees during activity. Osteoarthritis pain in the hips is about one third as common as knee pain. Osteoarthritis may also cause pain in the hands, neck and back, especially in the elderly. As bone rubs on bone due to cartilage loss, new bone deposits called bone spurs can form that press on nerves. For some people, this nerve compression in the spine leads to shooting pains or weakness in the arms or legs.

5 Osteoarthritis Causes Osteoarthritis is caused by the deterioration of the cartilage around the ends of the bone s joints. This happens most typically due to age but can also result from a severe or repeated injury to a joint. Cartilage is the smooth, rubbery connective tissue on the end of bones, helping them move smoothly and easily. Cartilage degenerates over time, becoming stiff and losing elasticity. Tendons and ligaments stretch as cartilage wears away, causing more pain. If left untreated, the cartilage may wear away completely. Obesity, heredity, joint overuse, bone deformities and having diabetes or other rheumatic diseases such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis can increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Factors that increase osteoarthritis risk: obesity heredity joint overuse As bone cartilage degenerates over time, it becomes stiff and loses elasticity. bone deformities diabetes & other rheumatic diseases

6 Both medication and lifestyle changes can help reduce pain Osteoarthritis Treatment Osteoarthritis treatment requires a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. While no treatment can cure or stop the progression of the disease, several medications can help reduce the pain. These include over-the-counter nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen (available by pill or applied topically to the skin), stronger prescription narcotic pain relievers and some antidepressants. Injections of cortisone directly into the affected joints can also alleviate pain and swelling, though not permanently. Weight loss is crucial if you are overweight to reduce the stress on your joints. Studies show that being even 10 pounds overweight will increase the stress across the knee joint by 30 to 60 pounds. Physical therapy and doing low impact, moderate exercise on your own can strengthen the muscles that support the joints, though it s important to note that excessive exercise, just like too little exercise, may worsen pain. Hot and cold compresses may also help to temporarily reduce pain and relax muscles. If the pain and/ or disability caused by osteoarthritis become severe, surgery to replace the affected joint(s) is an option.

7 Osteoarthritis Diet Though no specific osteoarthritis diet is recommended, eating a well-balanced healthy diet is essential to help build strong cartilage, keep weight down and reduce inflammation. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things to do both to prevent osteoarthritis and to help keep it from getting worse. One study found that obese women who lost just 11 pounds cut their risk for knee osteoarthritis in half. Eating more antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables is also essential to reduce joint inflammation and pain, and protect cells from damage. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods like salmon, olive oil and walnuts, are also good at reducing inflammation in the body and are easy to add to your diet. Vitamin C has been shown to build collagen and connective tissue in the body. Citrus fruits, kale and red peppers are all good sources of vitamin C. Some experts also believe that meats cooked at high temperatures (as in grilling, frying and microwaving) should be avoided because this type of cooking produces compounds called AGEs that can worsen inflammation in the body. Consuming vitamin C helps build collagen and connective tissue in the body.

8 Capsaicin, NSAIDs, acetaminophen, opiods, steroid injections and some antidepressants can all help with osteoarthritis pain Osteoarthritis Medicine There is no cure for osteoarthritis and no osteoarthritis medicine that will reverse the course of the disease. The goal of medication is to reduce or eliminate pain and keep the joints moving well, because joints that are too painful to move lead to weakened and shortened muscles and ligaments. Treatment depends on pain severity. For some people with mild pain, over the counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen is sufficient. For more severe pain, opioids (narcotic pain medicines like codeine and hydrocodone) may be required. Some antidepressants like duloxetine can reduce pain, while steroid injections into the affected joint can reduce swelling. Pain relievers are also available over the counter in the form of creams or patches that you apply to the skin. These include capsaicin and topical nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

9 By downloading this Osteoarthritis Handbook, you re now a member of CreakyJoints! We re a community of more than 75,000 people with all forms of arthritis. As a CreakyJoints member, enjoy these free membership benefits: Meaningful support: Find local support groups and read stories from people with various forms of arthritis and rheumatic disease. Updates and education: Receive the longest running arthritis newsletter, CJ News, and get access to webinars. Innovative advocacy: Get unique opportunities to make your voice heard in state and national legislation hearings. Global research projects: Make a difference in the lives of all people with arthritis by participating in important research initiatives. Log into your CreakyJoints account today at

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