One of the most common musculoskeletal conditions found in UK adults is osteoarthritis, which is said to affect around 33% of adults ages 45 and over, or an estimated 8.75 million people.
Early signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis can often go undiagnosed or dismissed as aches and pains without any obvious cause – the condition does not show up in diagnostic tests such as X-rays, and thus can be difficult to identify. If you are 45 years or older and are experiencing regular knee-related issues, there’s a chance that the problem could be osteoarthritis.
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease and one of the world’s most common joint conditions. Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage breaks down, becoming thin and rough and covering less of your bones, meaning your bones rub against each other and gradually begin to wear away. This reaction often causes recurring pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints, and is most likely to affect joints in the knees followed by hips and hands and wrists. Patients who have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis may also experience limited movement in their affected joints, clicking or cracking in joints, and tenderness.
It’s estimated that nearly one in two adults will develop osteoarthritis symptoms in their knees at some point during their lives, and one in four will develop symptoms in their hip by the time they are 85 years old. Some of the causes of osteoarthritis include genetic abnormalities, being overweight, experiencing injuries to joints through tears, fractures, or surgeries and other factors like existing metabolic disorders, and other bone and joint disorders. If you have previously injured your knee or have had surgery on the area, then you are more likely to develop osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis most often occurs in the knees – if you have been experiencing unexplained pain, swelling, or stiffness in your knees and are over the age of 45 (although symptoms may occur before this age in some cases), you may be experiencing early signs of osteoarthritis. In order to receive proper treatment for your condition and symptoms, it’s important to first see a medical professional in order to gain an official diagnosis. Your doctor may order a physical examination, collect personal and family medical history, and order diagnostic tests like joint aspiration or MRI’s that will help to rule out other potential causes of joint pain. You will be asked to describe your symptoms, when they began to bother you, and the location(s) of your symptoms.
Proper treatment of osteoarthritis
Since osteoarthritis can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle for some, the condition may sometimes lead to increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. It’s important for those diagnosed with osteoarthritis to seek out proper treatment so they can continue to live a healthy and active lifestyle. One of the best ways to manage the symptoms of osteoarthritis is through physical activities like walking, running, or other light exercises which can help to reduce pain and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Other recommended treatments include stretches and physical therapy which can help retrain you on how to properly use joints and regain motion, weight management, and anti-inflammatory medications.
Vitamin and nutrient supplements are also recommended in order to help your body produce and maintain nutrients that are critical to bone and joint health. As we age, the natural production of proteins like collagen in our body begin to slow – because collagen is an important element in the structure of our bones, tendons, and cartilage, the reduced collagen production can bring about problems. Many vitamin and nutrient supplements like LQ’s Joint Care Liquid Health supplement feature Vitamin C, which contributes to normal collagen formation for the normal function of bones and cartilage. These supplements also contain copper, which has been found to contribute to the maintenance of normal connective tissues within your body.
If you have been experiencing recurring knee problems, it may be worth your time to talk to your doctor about the possibility of osteoarthritis. The condition is most likely to affect the joints in your knees, but can be easily managed through regular exercise, weight loss, and vitamin supplements that can help to ease and treat your symptoms so that you can continue to live your life uninterrupted.