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OSTEOARTHRITIS - Pain in joints and bones, prevention and exercisesBY: Rohini Upreti | Category: Health and Fitness | Post Date: 2008-10-22
Osteoarthritis is a painful disease but if proper care is taken, the patient can lead a normal life and carry on with the day to day chores without much trouble.
What is Osteoarthritis?
‘Osteo' means bone, ‘arthros' means joint and ‘itis' means inflammation. Osteoarthritis is the inflammation of joints between the bones as a result of constant wear and tear over the years or due to heredity or severe injury. It is a type of arthritis that is caused by the breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage in the joints. It is a degenerative disease. Osteoarthritis affects the joints of knee, hip, fingers, toes, thumb, ankle and spine.
What is a joint?
A human joint is a place where two bones meet. Joints are of three types:
1. Immovable joints - These joints allow no movement e.g. bones of the skull.
2. Slightly movable joints - In these joints a pad of cartilage is present between the bones which make slight movement possible e.g. joints of the spine.
3. Freely movable joints - In these joints too, bones are covered with cartilage and these are of three types:
a. Ball and socket joint e.g. hip, shoulder.
b. Hinge joint e.g. elbow, knee, and finger.
c. Pivot joint e.g. neck.
A healthy joint has a smooth elastic tissue called cartilage between the bones. Cartilage is a protein substance which cushions the joints, allows easy movement and protects the ends of the joints. In a patient suffering from Osteoarthritis, the cartilage deteriorates due to constant wear and tear over the years or due to a severe joint injury. Due to the deterioration of cartilage the ends of the joints rub each other causing joint swelling and pain.
Pain and stiffness of joint can also occur after a long period of inactivity e.g. sitting in a theater.
Steps to follow if one encounters heaviness, swelling or joint pain
DETECTION of Osteoarthritis:
1. Self examination - Feel the joint, which hurts when stressed out, with fingers while moving the joint. If there is any kind of deterioration (creaking or crackling noise) while moving the joint consult an orthopedist immediately.
2. Doctors diagnose Osteoarthritis by examining the symptoms (physical examination) and confirm their diagnosis through x ray. X ray may show loss of joint cartilage, narrowing of joint and bone spur formation.
THINGS TO DO - PREVENTIVE MEASURES:
Once damaged a joint cannot be fully repaired but one can slow down it's degeneration by incorporating certain constructive measures in his or her daily routine.
1. Reorganize your diet pattern and eat food which makes you healthy and fit and cuts down the excess fat. (for patients suffering from Osteoarthritis of ankle and knee as these are weight bearing joints)
2. Good posture to strengthen spine muscle.
3. Avoid squatting and climbing stairs.
4. Pain can be eased by using hot water bottle or heat pad on the affected area to relieve inflammation.
5. A regular exercise program to strengthen muscles and lessen stiffening. Yoga lessons by Swami Ramdevji are very helpful. Exercise strengthens muscular support around the joints. Swimming, walking, stationary cycling and light weight training are some popular exercises.
6. Resting sore joints helps in decreasing pain and swelling.
Since I am myself suffering from Osteoarthritis of knee joint, here are some exercises for knee which have helped me.
1. Lie down straight on your back. Roll a hand towel and put it under your knees and press your knees down to the count of 10 or 20. Release after 10/20 counts and repeat the exercise.
2. Lie down on your back. Fold the left leg and stretch and then fold the right leg and stretch. Repeat this exercise as many times as possible to relieve stiffness of joints.
3. Sit on the edge of the bed, lift both the legs gradually to the level of the bed and exert pressure on the knees then lower the legs.
4. Yoga exercises like ‘Anulom-vilom' and ‘Kapal-bhati', which are breathing exercises also tone up our system and help in weight loss.
But a word of caution here - Do consult your physiotherapist before starting the exercises.
To ease the pain doctors prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Corticosteroids may be injected in cases of severe inflammation. When the deterioration is extensive the only option left is joint replacement surgery in which a plastic or stainless steel joint is installed.
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