degenerative arthritis

Overview

Their are quite one hundred sorts of inflammatory disease, which accurately means that joint inflammation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 50 million Americans are afflicted, and 27 million have osteoarthritis, by far the most common form, especially among older people. Sometimes known as chronic joint unwellness, the degenerative joint disease accounts for many of the hip and knee replacement surgeries performed within the u. s.. As with alternative kinds of inflammatory disease, girls ar at higher risk than men for the condition.

Osteoarthritis affects structures throughout the joint. Among them the cartilage, the slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint, is usually affected. Healthy animal tissue permits bones to glide over each other and absorbs energy from the shock of physical movement. In osteoarthritis, the surface layer of cartilage breaks down and wears away, which allows bones under the cartilage to rub together. This causes bone remodeling and change in boney shape and loss of motion of the joint. Over time, the joint loses its normal shape. Also, bone spurs—small growths known as osteophytes—may grow on the perimeters of the joint. By the time an individual has symptoms from degenerative joint disease, it’s not simply a unwellness of animal tissue. Bone has changed, muscles across the joint have often weakened and there is occasionally inflammation in the lining of the joint.

Unlike another types of inflammatory disease, degenerative joint disease solely affects joints, not internal organs. Rheumatoid arthritis—another common style of arthritis—affects alternative elements of the body besides the joints. It causes inflammation and should create individuals feel sick, tired and typically feverish, among other symptoms.

Some younger individuals get degenerative joint disease from a joint injury, but osteoarthritis most often occurs in people over 40. In fact, at least 80 percent of people over age 55 have X-rayevidence of osteoarthritis in at least one joint, and approximately one-third have symptoms of the disease. Since the number of older Americans is increasing, so is the number of people with osteoarthritis. Before age fifty five, additional men have the condition (often the results of a sports or work injury), while after age 55, osteoarthritis is more common in women.

Osteoarthritis affects each person differently. In some people, it progresses quickly; in others, the symptoms develop slowly and may be stable for many years. Researchers don’t however recognize what causes the unwellness, but they suspect a combination of factors in the body and in the environment. Genetics, weight and stresses on the joints from certain jobs, hobbies or other activities may affect the disease and how a person reacts to it.

Usually, osteoarthritis develops slowly. Early on, joints might ache when physical work or exercise. Osteoarthritis will occur in any joint however most frequently happens at the joints within the hands, hips and knees.

  • Hands: Osteoarthritis of the fingers is the one type of the disease that seems to be predominantly hereditary. More women than men have it, and risk increases aftermenopause. Small, bony knobs appear on the end joints of the fingers. They are called Heberden’s nodes. Similar knobs (called Bouchard’s nodes) will seem on the center joints of the fingers. Fingers will become enlarged and knotty and should ache or be stiff and numb. The base of the thumb joint is additionally ordinarily full of degenerative joint disease. This kind of degenerative joint disease are often helped by medications, splints or heat treatment.
  • Knees: The knees ar among the body’s main weight-bearing joints. They are conjointly among the joints most ordinarily full of degenerative joint disease. An afflicted knee may be stiff, swollen and painful, making it hard to walk, climb or get in and out of chairs and bathtubs. If not treated, degenerative joint disease within the knee will result in incapacity. However, even with treatment, osteoarthritis may progress. Medications, losing weight, exercise and walking aids can reduce pain and disability. In severe cases, knee replacement surgery may be required. Research studies show that being overweight will increase the danger of developing {osteoarthritis|degenerative arthritis|degenerative joint unwellness|arthritis} of the knees and show that injuries to the knee ar a serious reason behind disease.
  • Hips: degenerative joint disease within the hip will cause pain, stiffness and severe disability. People most often feel the pain in their groin, front of thighs or knees. Walking aids, such as canes or walkers, can reduce stress on the hip. Osteoarthritis within the hip might limit moving and bending. This can create daily activities like dressing and foot care a challenge. Walking aids, medication and exercise can help relieve pain and improve motion. A health care professional may recommend hip replacement if the pain is severe and not helped by other treatments.

Researchers suspect that genes play a job in some cases of degenerative joint disease. In one rare style of unwellness beginning as early as age twenty, affected people may have a defect in the gene that helps the body make collagen, the protein that makes up cartilage. More ordinarily, minor genetic variations may increase the risk of osteoarthritis. They may have an effect on minor molecules within the joint, changing the metabolism of joint structures, or they may change the shape of a joint during growth, leaving slight defects in the method bones that along|close|move} in joints work together. This may cause cartilage to wear away more quickly than normal. Double-jointedness, associate degree genetic attribute wherever the joints bend farther than usual, may additionally increase risk for degenerative joint disease.

Diagnosis

The warning signs of arthritis embody steady joint pain or intermittent pain that typically worsens with activity, temporary stiffness when obtaining out of bed, joint swelling or tenderness in one or a lot of joints and a crunching feeling or sound of bone rubbing on bone.

No single test can diagnose osteoarthritis. Most health care professionals use a combination of the following methods to diagnose the disease and rule out other conditions:

  • Clinical history. The health care professional will begin by asking you to describe your symptoms, and when and how the condition started. Be sure to provide an accurate description of pain, such as what makes it worse or better, stiffness and joint function and how they have changed over time. You should also share information on other medical conditions and any medicines you are taking.
  • Physical examination. The health care professional will check your general health and examine joints that bother you, as well as your reflexes and muscle strength. He or she will observe your ability to walk, bend and carry out activities of daily living.
  • X-rays and other imaging techniques. X-rays will show what quantity joint injury has been done; they’ll show such things as animal tissue loss, bone injury and bone spurs. But there’s usually a giant distinction between the severity of arthritis that the X-ray shows and therefore the degree of pain and incapacity the patient has. In addition, X-rays might not show early arthritis injury (before a lot of animal tissue loss has taken place). Other types of imaging tests may also be used to look for damage that cannot be seen on X-ray, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound.
  • Other tests. A health care professional may order blood tests to rule out other possible causes of your arthritis. Another common check includes “joint aspiration,” or “arthrocentesis,” during which fluid is drawn from the joint for examination. The fluid will be examined to envision if it contains the crystals that cause gouty arthritis or pseudogout or if it’s moderately or severely inflamed, that suggests you have got rheumatoid arthritis.

It is sometimes not tough to inform if a patient has arthritis. It is harder to inform if the sickness is inflicting the patient’s symptoms. Osteoarthritis is therefore common, especially in older people, that it may mask other conditions that are actually responsible for symptoms. A health care professional will try to find out what is causing the symptoms, ruling out other disorders and identifying conditions that may make the symptoms worse.

Not everyone with osteoarthritis feels pain. In fact, regarding third of individuals for whom X-rays show proof of arthritis report pain or different symptoms.

The most common way to measure pain is for a health care professional to ask you about it. For example, you may be asked to describe the level of pain you feel on a scale of one to 10. Use specific words to explain your pain-like aching, burning, stinging or throbbing to better convey what is happening. It’s also important to describe if and where the pain travels (for example, from the groin down to the knee).

Since health care professionals rely on your description of pain to help guide treatment, you may want to keep a pain diary to record your pain sensations. On a each day, describe the situations that cause or alter the intensity of your pain, the sensations and severity of your pain and your reactions to the pain. For example: “On weekday night, sharp pains in my knees produced by housework interfered with my sleep; on Tuesday morning, because of the pain, I had a hard time getting out bed. However, I coped with the pain by taking my medication and applying ice to my knees.” The diary can provide your health care skilled some insight into your pain and may play a critical role in the management of your disease.

Treatment

A roaring treatment program for degenerative joint disease could involve a mixture of therapies tailored to your wants, fashion and health. Work closely together with your health care supplier to assist produce the foremost effective treatment for you.

In general, osteoarthritis treatment has three general goals:

  • Control pain through drugs and other measures.
  • Improve joint care through rest and exercise.
  • Maintain an appropriate body weight and achieve a healthy lifestyle.

In addition to the guidance of your primary health care professional, you may need care from a physical therapist, a rheumatologist (a physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders that affect the joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones) or a physiatrist (a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and management of injuries and diseases causing pain, loss of function and disability). Treatment plans often include the use of exercise, massage, heat, relaxation techniques, splints and braces and local injections to relieve pain.

Osteoarthritis treatment plans additionally usually embrace ways in which to manage pain and improve perform. Such plans will involve exercise, rest and joint care, pain relief, weight control, medications, surgery and nontraditional treatments.

If you’re diagnosed with degenerative joint disease, you may be prescribed a variety of medicines to eliminate or reduce pain and to improve functioning. Health care professionals take into account variety of things once selecting medicines for his or her patients with degenerative joint disease. Two vital factors area unit the character of the pain and a drug’s potential aspect effects. You must use medicines fastidiously, and tell your health care skilled concerning any changes that occur.

The following types of medicines are commonly used in treating osteoarthritis:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Many NSAIDs are used to treat osteoarthritis. Patients can buy some NSAIDs over the counter (for example, aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen). Other NSAIDs are available by prescription only. These medicine all scale back inflammation or swelling and relieve pain. However, each NSAID is a different chemical and can have slightly different effects in the body.NSAIDs can cause stomach irritation or affect kidney function and blood pressure. Plus, there is the potential for cardiovascular events associated with the use of NSAIDS. The longer you use NSAIDs, the more likely you are to have side effects. Many other drugs cannot be taken with NSAIDs. NSAIDs are associated with serious gastrointestinal problems, including ulcers, bleeding and perforation. They should be used with caution in people over 65 and in those with any history of ulcers or gastrointestinal bleeding, congestive heart failure, renal insufficiency and hypertension. It’s important to raise your health care skilled for safety data related to pain relievers together with your personal health history in mind.A newer nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (called a cyclooxygenase-2 specific inhibitor) inhibits an enzyme (COX-2), which triggers pain and inflammation, while sparing an enzyme called COX-1, which helps maintain the normal stomach lining. Celecoxib (Celebrex) is currently the only COX-2 inhibitor on the market. Celebrex could increase the danger of heart failure and stroke; discuss these risks together with your health care skilled. For more information on the risks associated with Celebrex.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol). This analgesic and fever-reducer (antipyretic) is not an NSAID and does not reduce inflammation. It is less likely to irritate the stomach than NSAIDs. Its availability over the counter, low cost and mild side effects make it the drug of choice for treating mild to moderate arthritis pain, but NSAIDS are usually more effective for patients with moderate to severe pain. Long-term use of acetaminophen taken multiple times daily may be associated with liver damage or inflammation of the kidneys (nephritis). Patients with liver disease and heavy alcohol drinkers should not use acetaminophen without first talking to a health care professional.

Health care professionals may prescribe several other medications for osteoarthritis. They include:

  • Tramadol hydrochloride (Ultram). Ultram is a prescription narcotic analgesic that provides pain relief for short-term acute flare-ups of osteoarthritis with fewer side effects than NSAIDs. Your health care professional may recommend tramadol in combination with acetaminophen for maximum pain relief.
  • Rubs and sprays (for example, capsaicin cream) applied directly to the skin.
  • Mild narcotic medications (opioids), which, while very effective, are potentially addictive and may have multiple side effects.
  • Corticosteroids. These powerful anti-inflammatory hormones are made naturally in the body or produced synthetically. Corticosteroids are typically injected into affected joints to relieve pain temporarily. This is a short-term measure.
  • Colchicine. This drug is usually prescribed to treat crystal inflammatory disease, which sometimes coexists with osteoarthritis. Colchicine could facilitate those that have crystal inflammatory disease (either pseudogout or gout), in addition to their osteoarthritis. People who have kidney or liver disease may be unable to use colchicines. Discuss benefits and risks with your health care professional.

Medicines used to treat osteoarthritis may have side effects, so it is important to learn about the drugs you are taking. Even nonprescription drugs should be reviewed. Certain patients may be at greater risk for side effects, such as those with a history of peptic ulcers or digestive tract bleeding, those taking oral corticosteroids or anticoagulants (blood thinners), those who smoke and those who consume alcohol. The risk of certain side effects in some osteoarthritis medications may be reduced by taking the drug with food. Some patients should avoid stomach irritants such as alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. Other medicines may be taken to protect the stomach lining by coating the stomach or blocking stomach acids. These measures help but are not always completely effective.

Other options for relieving the pain and damage caused by osteoarthritis include:

  • Viscosupplements. These medications use hyaluronic acid (or hyaluronate) to replace the synovial fluid that helps lubricate the joints, which is lost in patients with osteoarthritis. (Hyaluronic acid is one of the two natural lubricants in synovial fluid.) It is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of knee pain in osteoarthritis patients who are unresponsive to nonpharmacologic measures and analgesic medications and who have significantly increased flares of inflammation or extensive inflammation. Even though FDA approved, controversy remains over the effectiveness of hyaluronic acid injections. The drugs, which include hyaluronan (Hyalgan) and hylan-GF-20 (Synvisc), are injected directly into the joint. These drugs are usually injected into the knee, but their use in other joints is being studied. Injections are typically given weekly over several weeks, and the pain relief may last for a few months. Because it is made from rooster combs, people with sensitivity to birds, feathers or eggs should not receive viscosupplements. Researchers are testing whether hyaluronic acid can slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
  • Physical or occupational therapy. The goals of occupational and physical therapy are to preserve the use of your joints, restore lost abilities, maintain your fitness, help you adapt to new levels of activity and help you maintain the ability to partake in the activities you enjoy. Occupational therapy can teach you how to reduce the strain on your joints during daily activity, and physical therapy can teach you exercises designed to preserve and strengthen your joints. Some of the therapeutic methods available include rest during flare-ups; applying heat or cold; exercise, including water exercises, strength exercises and recreational exercise; specific exercise to help you prepare for or recover from surgery if surgery is prescribed; joint protection activities and exercises; and assistive devices, such as a bath stool in your shower or a shoe horn.
  • Surgery. A variety of surgical procedures are used to treat osteoarthritis including joint realignment, joint fusion, cartilage grafting and joint replacement. Surgeons may replace affected joints with artificial joints called prostheses, which can last about 20 years. These joints can be made from metal alloys, high-density plastic and ceramic material and can be joined to bone surfaces by special cements. A small percentage of these artificial joints may need revision, especially after years of use. Surgeons choose the design and components of prostheses according to their patient’s weight, sex, age, activity level and other medical conditions.The decision to perform surgery depends on several factors: level of disability, intensity of pain, weight, interference with lifestyle, age, occupation and other medical conditions. Currently, the majority of osteoarthritis surgery cases involve replacing the hip or knee joint, but other joints can be replaced, including thumb joints, shoulder joints and elbow joints. After surgery and rehabilitation, the patient usually feels less pain and swelling and can move more easily.When joint replacement isn’t an option, other types of surgery for osteoarthritis may involve realigning or fusing bones to increase stability and help decrease pain.Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of surgery with your health care professional before you make a decision about whether it’s best for you.
  • Weight loss: Weight loss can reduce stress on weight-bearing joints, limit further injury and result in less pain and better function. A dietitian can help you develop healthy eating habits and a nutritional plan to promote weight loss.
  • Exercise. Exercise is frequently used to treat osteoarthritis, whether or not a patient is overweight. Exercise can improve mood and outlook, decrease pain, increase flexibility, improve the heart and blood flow, maintain weight and promote general physical fitness. It is also inexpensive and, if done correctly, has few negative side effects. The amount and form of exercise you can do will depend on which joints are involved, how stable the joints are and whether a joint replacement has already been done.Exercise can produce generalized improvement as well as specific effects. When it comes to osteoarthritis of the knee, the level of muscle strength in the thigh muscle (quadriceps) and perhaps in the muscles around the hips are important. Strengthening these muscles can relieve symptoms. Walking can result in better functioning and increased walking distance.In addition, there is evidence that yoga and tai chi can help reduce osteoarthritis pain. These alternative forms of exercise combine gentle exercises, stretching and deep breathing.Ask your health care professional or physical therapist what exercises are best for you. Ask for guidelines on exercising when a joint is sore or if swelling is present. Also, check if you should use drugs, such as analgesics or anti-inflammatories, to make exercising easier, or if you should use ice afterward. An exercise plan should also include regularly scheduled rest. Learn to recognize your body’s signals, and know when to stop or slow down to prevent pain caused by over-exercising.
  • Supportive devices. Osteoarthritis pain can be so bad that you need a cane or splints to protect your joints and to take pressure off them. Splints or braces provide extra support for a weakened joint and keep the joint in proper position during sleep or activity. An occupational therapist or a health care professional can help fit you properly with a splint. Braces have been shown to be effective for knee osteoarthritis.

Alternative Therapies for Relieving Arthritis Pain

  • Relaxation techniques. Stress reduction and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, guided imagery and visualization (where you focus on “seeing” pleasant pain-free scenes or activities in your mind), may provide some pain relief.
  • Acupuncture. Acupuncture is an important component of traditional Chinese medicine. It involves the insertion of thin needles at specific points, which are mostly along the body’s nerve pathways, to improve health. According to the Arthritis Foundation, acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative treatment option for arthritis pain, working to help release tightened muscles, regulate the body’s nervous system to stimulate natural endorphins and alter the body’s perception of pain. Indeed, a clinical trial showed that acupuncture, when used along with conventional therapy, improved function and reduced pain in osteoarthritis of the knee. Individuals who want to use acupuncture should discuss their interest with their health care team and should receive treatment only from a licensed acupuncturist.
  • Nutritional supplements. Many studies have carefully evaluated the role of nutritional supplements in osteoarthritis.Two supplements that have received a lot of attention regarding their potential benefits in people with osteoarthritis are glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. Both are substances naturally produced by the body. The supplements are derived from animal tissue, specifically from crab, lobster and shrimp shells (glucosamine), and from animal (shark) cartilage (chondroitin). So far, studies on these supplements—when used alone and together—have shown few, if any, benefits.The FDA does not regulate glucosamine/chondroitin or other food supplements, as it does over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs. If you are considering trying one or both of these supplements, check with your health care professional first. Side effects associated with these supplements include increased intestinal gas and softened stools. If you experience these problems, you might want to try another supplement brand before you stop using them altogether.Certain vitamins have been linked to joint health, particularly vitamins C and D. These vitamins may slow the progress of osteoarthritis, but, again, more research is needed to confirm these claims.In addition, some controversial studies show oils found in avocado and soybeans, called avocado-soybean unsaponifiables (ASUs), may slow cartilage loss and actually help repair cartilage in hip and knee joints when taken orally.Products and reports about nutritional supplements claiming to provide pain relief should be viewed with caution until more studies can be conducted. Discuss your interest or questions about such products and reports with your health care professional.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). TENS is the application of electrical stimulation from a small device to the nerve endings that lie below the skin for pain relief. The use of TENS in people with osteoarthritis is controversial. Some studies have found that people who use TENS for osteoarthritis in the knee experience less pain, greater range of motion and less stiffness. Another study found that the benefits occurred while the TENS unit was actually being used, and yet another study found that TENS was no more effective for relieving pain than a placebo.
  • Biofeedback. Biofeedback is a way to enhance a body signal so that you are aware of something that usually occurs at a level below consciousness. An electronic device provides information about a body function (such as heart rate) so that you can learn to control that function. If you have arthritis, biofeedback can help you learn to relax your muscles. In this case, an electronic device amplifies the sound of a muscle contracting, so the arthritis patient knows that the muscle is not relaxed. The therapy is typically learned with the help of a health care professional and then practiced at home, either with the use of a biofeedback machine once the patient has mastered the technique, or without one.

Prevention

While many osteoarthritis risk factors—being female, older and having other diseases that affect the bones and joints—cannot be changed, you can work on several other risk factors to lower your risk of developing the condition:

  • Obesity. Losing extra weight and exercising can help people with osteoarthritis. Most importantly, weight loss may reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knee in overweight or obese people.
  • On-the-job injuries. Taking precautions to avoid repetitive joint use and resulting joint injury in the occupational setting can help prevent osteoarthritis.
  • Sports injuries. Using recommended prevention strategies (warm-ups, strengthening exercises and appropriate equipment) helps to avoid joint injuries and damage to ligaments and cartilage, all of which can increase your risk of osteoarthritis.

Facts to Know

  1. There are more than 100 kinds of arthritis, which literally means joint inflammation. About 50 million Americans are afflicted, and 27 million adults have osteoarthritis, by far the most common form, especially among older people. As with most types of arthritis, women are at higher risk than men for the condition.
  2. Osteoarthritis occurs when the surface layer of cartilage—the protective tissue between bones at joints—breaks down and wears away. This allows bones under the cartilage to rub together, causing pain, swelling and loss of motion of the joint.
  3. Osteoarthritis affects each person differently. Its progression rate and symptom severity vary widely. Researchers do not yet know what causes the disease, but they suspect a combination of factors in the body and in the environment. Also, diet, weight and stresses on the joints from certain jobs affect the disease and how a person reacts to it.
  4. Researchers suspect inheritance plays a role in some cases of osteoarthritis. Some genes may influence joint shape, with certain shapes being vulnerable to osteoarthritis. Other genes may change the way tissues regenerate in the joint, making turnover of tissues less healthy.
  5. The warning warning signs of osteoarthritis include steady or intermittent pain in a joint, worsening of pain with activity, stiffness after getting out of bed, joint swelling or tenderness in one or more joints, a crunching feeling or sound of bone rubbing on bone.
  6. By age 55, more than 80 percent of the population has X-ray evidence of osteoarthritis in at least one joint. However, about one-third of people with evidence of osteoarthritis in their X-rays report pain or other symptoms.
  7. You can lower your risk of developing osteoarthritis by losing weight and taking precautions to avoid on-the-job and sports injuries. Consult your health care professional before embarking on a weight-loss program.
  8. If you have symptoms of arthritis, it is a good idea to see a health care professional. Early intervention has proven to be a key to slowing progress of the disease.
  9. A variety of medical and nonmedical options are available to help you manage osteoarthritis, including pain relievers, surgery, hyaluronic acid injections and diet and exercise modifications. Acupuncture, transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS), biofeedback and relaxation techniques are examples of alternative therapies that may provide some relief from arthritis pain.
  10. Education is also an effective means of managing arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation Self-Help Program, sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation, may help reduce your pain, reduce disability, improve your quality-of-life and reduce your utilization of medical services.

Key Q&A

  1. What causes osteoarthritis?In osteoarthritis, the surface layer of cartilage breaks down and wears away. This allows bones under the cartilage to rub together, causing pain, swelling and loss of motion of the joint. Major injuries to the joint, like tears of ligaments or of the meniscus in the knee, can also lead to osteoarthritis.
  2. What’s the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis?Osteoarthritis only affects joints, not internal organs. Rheumatoid arthritis—the second most common form of arthritis—affects other parts of the body besides the joints. It typically causes inflammation and may make people feel sick, tired and sometimes feverish, among other symptoms. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system attacks healthy tissues.
  3. Am I at risk for osteoarthritis?Women are at somewhat higher risk than men, and risk increases as you age. If your job or a sport you enjoy carries a high risk of injury, your risk of osteoarthritis is also higher. Being overweight is another risk factor, since extra weight increases stress on weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips.
  4. Can I do anything to reduce my risk of developing osteoarthritis?Losing weight and minimizing injury to your joints on the job and at play can cut your risk.
  5. What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?The warning signs of osteoarthritis include steady or intermittent pain in a joint, stiffness after getting out of bed, swelling or tenderness in one or more joints, increased pain with activity, a crunching feeling or sound of bone rubbing on bone.
  6. How is osteoarthritis diagnosed?A health care professional will probably take a clinical history, conduct a physical examination and may order X-rays. Be prepared to describe pain and other symptoms in detail. Specific descriptive terms—such as throbbing, constant, sharp, intermittent, aching, burning or stinging—are helpful. X-rays and other imaging techniques (such as MRI or ultrasound) can help determine how much joint damage has been done and whether you have cartilage loss, bone damage or bone spurs. However, X-rays may not show early osteoarthritis damage and may not be necessary to make the diagnosis. Various blood tests may be done to make sure you do not have rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or other forms of inflammatory disease. Fluid may be removed from your affected joint to help with diagnosis.
  7. What’s the latest on medications used to treat arthritis pain?NSAIDs and acetaminophen are still top choices for treating arthritis pain, NSAIDS for moderate to severe osteoarthritis, and acetaminophen for mild to moderate cases. However, keep in mind that there is the potential for increased risk of cardiovascular (CV) events and gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding associated with the use of NSAIDS. It’s important to ask your health care professional for information about safety information associated with pain relievers with your personal health history in mind.
  8. Are there ways of alleviating osteoarthritis pain without medications?Yes. Weight loss, exercise, physical therapy, stress reduction and biofeedback often help, as do using canes or wearing splints to take the pressure off joints. Warm towels, hot packs or a warm bath can often relieve pain, as can cold packs used after exercise (check with your health care professional before using hot or cold therapies).
  9. Can I exercise if I have osteoarthritis?Yes. Research shows that one of the best treatments for osteoarthritis is exercise. This activity can decrease pain, improve mood and outlook, increase flexibility, improve the heart and blood flow, maintain weight and promote general physical fitness. It is also inexpensive and, if done correctly, has few negative side effects. The amount and form of exercise you can do will depend on which joints are involved, how stable the joints are and whether a joint replacement has already been done. Be sure to discuss any plan to start an exercise program with your health care professional.
  10. Should I make changes in my diet if I have osteoarthritis?If you are overweight, you should discuss a weight-loss plan with a health care professional. Losing weight takes excess stress off weight-bearing joints and can limit further injury. Progression of the disease may be less in patients with high levels of vitamin C and D, although more studies are needed to confirm these reports.