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Osteoarthritis

What is it?

  • Osteoarthritis (ah-stee-o-arth-ri-tis) is also called arthritis. Another name for it is degenerative (d-jen-er-uh-tiv) joint disease. There is usually cartilage (kar-tih-lij) covering the bone ends in each joint. This cartilage cushions the joint when it moves. In arthritis, this cartilage slowly wears away. In some cases, a bone "spur" (a pointed growth) may grow in the joint. The bone spur causes inflammation (in-fluh-ma-shun) or pain, swelling, and redness.
  • Arthritis is usually more painful in the joints that bear weight, such as the feet, knee, hip, and spine (back and neck). But it is also painful in the fingers, wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints. Many people get arthritis as they age. If you are over 50 years old, you have a greater chance of getting arthritis. Arthritis is a life-long condition.

Causes:

The exact cause of osteoarthritis is not known. If you have had one or more of the following problems, you are more likely to get arthritis.

  • A bone or joint injury sometime in the past.
  • Diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Overuse of your joints at work or during sports.
  • Overweight.

Signs and Symptoms:

In the early stages of arthritis you may not have any symptoms. With time you will slowly begin to have deep aching joint pain. This pain is often worse after exercise or weight bearing, such as walking. The pain may lessen with rest. Cold and damp weather may make your aching worse. You may feel swelling, stiffness, and have less joint motion. When you move your joints, you may hear a cracking sound. There is usually no fever, redness, or heat in your joints.

Wellness Recommendations:

Exercise may keep osteoarthritis from getting worse as it strengthens the muscles that protect the joints. Good exercises are cycling and water exercises.

Medical Care:

X-rays of your joints will be done. Caregivers will help you to decrease your joint paint and improve your strength.

  • You may be given over-the-counter medicine to decrease pain and inflammation, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Sometimes steroids shots are used for a short time to decrease joint inflammation.
  • You may need to use a cane, crutches, walker, or a splint. These can help decrease stress and strain on the affected joint. Some exercises and heat may help decrease stiffness and strengthen the weak muscles around the joint. Surgery may be needed to remove the damaged joint cartilage or replace or fuse the joint.

Dietary Measures:

  • Some people feel their osteoarthritis symptoms are worse after eating certain foods. You may want to keep a food diary to see if a food triggers joint symptoms.

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.

Herbs:

    Supplements:

      Complementary Therapies:

      • Acupuncture is useful for osteoarthritis pain.
      • Low level laser therapy may help osteoarthritis.
      • Magnetic field therapy may help osteoarthritis.

      Other ways of treating your symptoms : Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

      Talk to your caregiver if:

      • You would like medicine to treat osteoarthritis.
      • Your symptoms have not gone away or improved by these self-help measures.
      • You have chills, fever, or redness and tenderness of the affected joint.
      • You have questions about what you have read in this document.

      SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:

      • You have trouble breathing all of a sudden. This could be a sign that you have a blood clot in your lung. It could also mean that you are allergic to a medicine you are taking.

      Care Agreement:

      You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care will be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

      References:

      1. Berman BM, Singh BB, Lao Let al: A randomized trial of acupuncture as an adjunctive therapy in osteoarthritis of the knee. Rheumatology 1999; 38(4):346-354.

      2. Bingham R, Bellew BA & Bellew JG: Yucca plant saponin in the management of arthritis. J Appl Nutr 1975; 45-51.

      3. Bruusgaard A & Andersen RB: Chenodeoxycholic-acid treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Lancet 1976; 1:700.

      4. Edmonds SE, Winyard PG, Guo R et al: Putative analgesic activity of repeated oral doses of vitamin E in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: results of a prospective placebo controlled double blind trial. Ann Rheum Dis 1997; 56(11):649-655.

      5. Jonas WB, Rapoza CP & Blair WF: The effect of niacinamide on osteoarthritis: a pilot study. Inflamm Res 1996; 45(7):330-334.

      6. Konig B: A long-term (two years) clinical trial with S-adenosylmethionine for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Am J Med 1987; 83(5A):89-94.

      7. Kulkarni SK, Patki PS, Jog VP et al: Treatment of osteoarthritis with a herbomineral formulation: a double-blind, placebo- controlled cross-over study. J Ethnopharmacol 1991; 33(1-2):91-95.

      8. Leeb BF, Schweitzer H, Montag K et al: A meta analysis of chondroitin sulfate in the treatment of osteoarthritis. J Rheumatol 2000; 27(1):205-211.

      9. Marks R& dePalma F: Clinical efficacy of low power laser therapy in osteoarthritis. Physiother Res Int 1999; 4(2):141-157.

      10. McAlindon TE, LaValley MP, Gulin JP et al: Glucosamine and chondroitin for treatment of osteoarthritis. A systematic quality assessment and meta-analysis. JAMA 2000; 283(11):1469-1475.

      11. McCarthy GM & McCarty DJ: Effect of topical capsaicin in the therapy of painful osteoarthritis of the hands. J Rheumatol 1992; 19(4):604-607.

      12. Newnham R: Essentiality of boron for healthy bones and joints. Environ Health Perspect 1994; 102(7):83-85.

      13. Ovesen L: Vitamin therapy in the absence of obvious deficiency: what is the evidence? Drugs 1984; 27(2):148-170.

      14. Ramm S & Hansen C: Stinging nettle leaf extract for arthritis and rheumatic arthritis. Therapiewoche 1996; 28:3-6.

      15. Srivastava KC & Mustafa T: Ginger (Zingiber officinale) in rheumatism and musculoskeletal disorders. Med Hypotheses 1992; 39(4):342-348.

      16. Stammers T, Sibbald B, Freeling P. Fish oil in osteoarthritis. Lancet 1989;ii:503 [letter].

      17. Stammers T, Sibbald B, Freeling P. Efficacy of cod liver oil as an adjunct to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug treatment in the management of osteoarthritis in general practice. Ann Rheum Dis 1992;51:128-9.

      18. Taylor MR: Food allergy as an etiological factor in arthropathies: a survey. J Internat Acad Prev Med 1983; 8:28-38.

      19. Trock DH, Bollet AJ, Dyer RH Jr et al: A double-blind trial of the clinical effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields in osteoarthritis. J Rheumatol 1993; 20(3):456-460.

      20. van Baar ME, Assendelft WJ, Dekker J et al: Effectiveness of exercise therapy in patients with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Arthritis Rheum 1999; 42(7):1361-1369.


      Last Updated: 9/4/2017
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