Thursday, October 1, 2020

Living with Osteoarthritis, Finding the Best Treatments


Often referred to as the degenerative joint disease or osteoarthrosis, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common variety of arthritis and it develops when the smooth cartilages that cushion the joints become rough and are then grinded down and deteriorate after years of daily usage.  Osteoarthritis can affect any joint of the body.  However, joints of the spine, the hips, the knees and the hands are most susceptible while joints of the jaws, the shoulders, the elbows, the wrists and the ankles are most uncommon.  Usually affecting a single joint, Osteoarthritis can also affect multiple joints at the same time.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis are many and they begin as mild and gradually, over a period of months or even years, progress to the very severe and debilitating stages.  The following are the most frequently observed symptoms of this degenerative disease called osteoarthritis:

  • Acute pain in the affected joint or joints which is felt most severely during or immediately after use, as well as after prolonged rest.
  • The affected joint or joints can be quite tender, even when the lightest pressure is applied.
  • Constant stiffness in the affected joint or joints which is most pronounced in the mornings and after any other periods of rest and inactivity.
  • The affected joint or joints become so inflexible that any movement can be impossibly difficult.
  • Usage of the affect joint or joints often feels like grating, grinding or creaking.  These sensations are due to the fact that the bones are indeed rubbing against each other.
  • Bone spurs may develop as hard bony lumps around the affect joint or joints.
  • The affected joint or joints frequently become inflamed and swollen.

Causes and Risks of Osteoarthritis

It is not unequivocally known what exactly causes osteoarthritis but medical research points to a number of possible factors which may include heredity, the aging process, injuries of the joints, prolonged stress on specific joints, weakening of the muscles surrounding the joints and obesity.

Since osteoarthritis is rarely seen in patients of under the age of 40, medical researchers believe that the most at risk of developing osteoarthritis are the elderly.  However, there are additional factors that increase the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis and they are women who for inexplicable reasons suffer osteoarthritis more frequently than men; those born with deformed bones or joints; injuries to joints; the obese who force their joints to carry more weight than they were intended to; and various diseases of the joints and bones such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, Paget’s disease and septic arthritis.

Living with Osteoarthritis

Presently, there is no cure for osteoarthritis but there is a vast array of treatments that help relieve the pain and loosen stiffness to increase mobility.  In the beginning stages when the pain is not overwhelming; rest, exercise and physical therapy, occupational therapy, hot and cold compresses, weight loss, over-the-counter pain creams, wearing braces or splints, and taking pain classes have all proven to be extremely helpful.

When the pain of osteoarthritis reaches moderate levels; medications are prescribed in addition to continuing with the treatments of the earlier stages.  Such medications may include acetaminophen (Tylenol), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or tramadol (Ultram).

When osteoarthritis reaches the severe levels of pain, stronger painkillers such as propoxyphene (Darvon) are prescribed along with injections of cortisone and hyaluronic acid-derivatives (Hyalgan, Synvisc).  Ultimately and when all else fails, surgery to replace points, to clean the area around the joints (debridement), to realign bones or to fuse bones is advised.


  1. Joseph

    Since I became interested in the field of nutrition approximately ten years ago, early on my attention turned to a nutrient known as SAMe (S-adenosyl methionine). SAMe is a powerful antioxidant and is critical in the methylation cycle. This cycle provides the body the ability to repair cells and detoxify.

    In the mid 1980s, a prestigious medical journal known as the American Journal of Medicine did an entire symposium on SAMe documenting benefits for various disease conditions. In the last several years, SAMe has become an extremely popular, over-the-counter supplement, although interest in this nutrient has lessened over the last couple of years. This may change very soon.

    A government report recently concluded that the dietary supplement, SAMe, appears equally effective as prescription drugs for both depression and osteoarthritis. This was released in an evidence report summary on the supplement that was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources. A group of researchers examined 102 clinical trials regarding SAMe. This team of researchers worked for more than three years to conduct a literature review on these 102 clinical trials. The team’s key findings on SAMe included that it was thought to be as effective as prescription anti-depressants; that it worked as effectively for osteoarthritic pain as non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs and that it may even help some liver conditions. Although SAMe appeared to be as efficacious as standard anti-depressant medication, it did not have any of the side-effects of prescription anti-depressants such as headaches, weight gain and most significantly, sexual dysfunction.

    This is exciting news. It provides individuals with a healthy alternative for health benefits with osteoarthritis and depression. SAMe has also been shown in several clinical trials to be effective for fibromyalgia, a disabling condition effecting millions of individuals in this country. SAMe also may lower homocysteine levels. High levels of homocysteine have been proven to cause strokes and heart attacks. It is critical that SAMe be consumed at levels that are effective; most studies used 800 mg – 1,600 mg per day. It is also important to understand that SAMe must be taken in a stabilized and standardized tablet form (this is one of the rare examples of a nutrient that is superior in a tablet form). SAMe is 50% elemental, so a product must provide 800 mg gross to equal 400 mg elemental.

Medically trained in the UK. Writes on the subjects of injuries, healthcare and medicine. Contact me

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