Grandma calls it Rheumatism, in actual fact, she suffers from Osteoarthritis
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Grandma calls it Rheumatism, in actual fact, she suffers from Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes the joints to become painful and stiff. The severity of osteoarthritis symptoms can vary from person to person, and between different affected joints. For some people, the symptoms may be mild and may come and go, whereas others can experience more continuous and severe problems.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
The main symptoms of osteoarthritis are pain and stiffness in the joints, which can make it difficult to move the affected joints and do certain activities. When the symptoms come and go in episodes, they could be related to things such as activity levels and weather.

Other symptoms include:
- Joint tenderness
- Increased pain and stiffness when the joints have not moved for a while.
- Joints appearing slightly larger or more 'knobbly' than usual
- A grating or crackling sound or sensation in the joints
- Limited range of movement in the joints
- Weakness and muscle wasting (loss of muscle bulk)

Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, but the most common areas affected are the knees, hips and small joints in the hands. People may only experience symptoms in one joint or a few joints at any one time. Osteoarthritis occurs when there is damage in and around the joints that the body can't fully repair.

Factors that lead to Osteoarthritis

The exact causes are not known but there are several factors thought to increase the risk of developing the condition. As part of normal life, the joints are exposed to a constant low level of damage. In most cases, the body will repair the damage itself. Usually, the repair process will pass unnoticed and no symptoms will be experienced.

However, in cases of osteoarthritis, the damage to the joints is not fully repaired and instead some of the cartilage (the protective surface that allows the joints to move smoothly) in the joint can be lost, bony growths can develop, and the area can become slightly inflamed (red and swollen). These changes are what cause the typical symptoms of pain, stiffness and swelling.

It is not known why problems develop in the repair process in cases of osteoarthritis, although, several factors are thought to increase the risk of developing the condition including:

Joint Injury: Osteoarthritis can develop in a joint damaged by an injury or operation. Overusing the joint when it has not had enough time to heal after an injury or operation can also contribute to osteoarthritis in later life.
Other Conditions - Sometimes, osteoarthritis can occur in joints severely damaged by a previous or existing condition , such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
Age: Osteoarthritis is not a normal part of ageing, but the risk of developing the condition does increase and most cases affect adults who are 45 years of age or older.
Family History: In some cases, osteoarthritis may run in families.
Obesity: Research into the cases of osteoarthritis has shown that being obese puts excess strain on the joints, particularly those that bear most weight, such as the knees and hips. As a result, osteoarthritis can often be worse in obese people.

Reducing the risk of Osteoarthritis

Although it is not possible to prevent osteoarthritis altogether, some lifestyle changes can reduce the risk. Mild symptoms can sometimes be managed with simple measures including regular exercise, losing weight, wearing suitable footwear and using special devices to reduce the strain on joints during everyday activities.

- Exercising regularly can help to keep joints healthy, but take care not to put too much stress on the joints, particularly the hips, knees and the joints in the hands.
- Avoid exercise that puts strain on the joints and forces them to bear an excess load, such as running and weight training. Instead try exercises such as swimming and cycling, where joints are better supported and the strain is more controlled.
- Try to maintain good posture at all times, and avoid staying in the same position for too long.
- The muscles help support the joints, so having strong muscles may help joints stay strong too.
- Doing at least 150 minutes (2 hours 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as cycling or fast walking) every week can build up muscle as well as general health. Exercise should be fun, so endeavour to do what you enjoy as long as it does not put too much strain on the joints.

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. While compiling this information, Drkay used all reasonable care but makes no warranty as to its accuracy.

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