The Different Treatments For Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It is estimated that 8.5 million people in the UK live with painful joints associated with this condition. Osteoarthritis is more likely to occur in older people, in fact over 50% of people older than 65 have some evidence of osteoarthritis, but it can occur in younger adults and even (although uncommonly) in children.
Cartilage is the firm, rubbery tissue located between joints. It serves to reduce friction between the joints and acts as a shock absorber. Osteoarthritis occurs when this cartilage gets worn down, so the bones in the joints start rubbing together. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include aches and pains around joint areas, stiffness, decreased mobility and swelling.
Older people are more likely to develop osteoarthritis, although not all will. Other risk factors include obesity (this creates more weight pressure on the joints and may also contribute to inflammation which can make arthritis pain worse), diabetes, hereditary factors, joint injury and gender (women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than men).
There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but there are various treatment options which can manage mild and moderate symptoms.
Arthritis causes pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints and so many people try medicines including painkillers such as paracetamol and anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen tablets or creams or gels.
It’s a good idea to speak to your doctor to find out which types of medication may best suit your needs. Just bear in mind many of these have side-effects and using them long term is not always recommended.
Staying active is essential for people living with arthritis. Lack of exercise leads to weaker muscles that are less able to support the joints, resulting in pain and instability. Simple exercises to improve muscle strength can be just as effective for pain as prescription painkillers. These can also help improve balance and function, which in turn can often mean things like joint replacement surgery can be delayed for a much longer period of time. It is normal to sometimes feel a little sore or uncomfortable after exercise, especially if it is something you haven’t done for a while, but it is important to remember that this does not mean that you are harming your joints. That being said, listen to your body. If doing something hurts beyond what is tolerable, stop and see if something else is more to your body's needs.
There are lots of exercise options available, and it’s important you choose something that you enjoy. Remember that exercise doesn’t have to involve running or weight lifting - anything from gardening, dancing, swimming,water aerobics, exercises done sitting down, going for a walk or even cleaning your house can count.
“Body weight plays a key part in arthritis. Excess weight places additional pressure on weight-bearing joints. A landmark study found one lb of weight-loss lessens four lbs of pressure on the knees per step.
Many people find a mixture of exercise and healthy eating beneficial for weight loss. Remember that you don’t need to ban your favourite foods - just try, on balance, to eat a healthy diet full of fruit, vegetables, healthy proteins, wholegrains, vitamins and minerals.
Supplements & Drug-free Alternatives
If you are not getting your recommended daily vitamins through foods alone - for example, if you’re vegan and lacking b12 - then you may choose a vitamin supplement to help make sure you’re getting your quota. Vitamin D supplements may also be helpful for bone health, especially in the darker, colder months.
FlexiSEQ is a drug-free topically applied gel that many people have tried, experiencing benefits such as being able to come off the other drug-based treatments they were using. But don’t just take our word for it, in 2019 FlexiSEQ ran an Experience Study and we love to hear from our users who tell us their Stories, not to mention those who leave reviews on Trustpilot. It’s worth seeing what they all have to say to see if drug-free FlexiSEQ could help your joint pain.
Stiffness and joint pain is often due to shortening of the muscles around the joint experiencing pain. Anything you can do to keep the muscle around the joints in good condition such as massage, stretching and strengthening can help. As a consequence a healthier, more relaxed muscle can assist you in managing the pain and excess inflammation commonly experienced in arthritis.
Physiotherapy can help strengthen joints and relax the tight muscles that can contribute to joint pains.
Using joints impacted by osteoarthritis is unlikely to cause more damage. However, arthritis can cause pain which can make daily tasks, such as gripping and housework, much harder.
There are a significant amount of gadgets and aids designed to help with these everyday tasks. From opening jars to getting up and down from chairs. It's worth exploring what is out there and speaking with your GP who might be able to refer you to an occupational therapist who in turn can best advise you on how to make tasks less painful.
Surgery is usually only offered if other treatments have been ineffective, and if your arthritis symptoms are severe and regularly debilitating. Joint surgery can be effective at reducing pain and increasing mobility in the affected area, although it does not come without risks. Speak to your doctor if you’re curious about whether surgery is right for you.
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