Osteoarthritis: What You Need To Know

Osteoarthritis: What You Need To KnowPin
Osteoarthritis: What You Need To Know

Osteoarthritis is one of over 100 different arthritis and related conditions that damage joints and even other organs. Arthritis is the USA’s #1 cause of disability and it affects nearly 60 million adults and 300,000 children. Your doctor can help you figure out what type of arthritis you have and how best to treat it.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease that can affect the many tissues of the joint. It is by far the most common form of arthritis, affecting more than 32.5 million adults in the United States.”

OA affects “the entire joint, including bone, cartilage, ligaments, fat and the tissues lining the joint (the synovium). Osteoarthritis can degrade cartilage, change bone shape and cause inflammation, resulting in pain, stiffness and loss of mobility.”

Osteoarthritis can affect any joint but most often affects “hands, knees, hips, lower back and neck.”

Factors That Affect The Development of OA

  •  Age: Your risk of developing OA increase with age.
  • Joint Injury: A joint injury increases your chances of developing OA.
  • Overuse: Repetitive actions done at work or from playing a sport can cause joint damage.
  • Being overweight puts more pressure on lower body joints because “every pound of weight puts 4 pounds of pressure on lower body joints.” Yikes!
  • When bones or joints are not lined up properly.
  • Weak muscles can lead to poor joint alignment.
  • Genetics: People with relatives who have OA are more likely to develop it.
  • Gender: Women are more likely than men to develop OA.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Symptoms of OA usually get worse over time instead of developing suddenly. Symptoms include pain which gets worse with use, stiffness in the morning or after prolonged sitting, limited range-of-motion that may improve with motion, swelling, and joint instability or buckling.

OA can cause bone spurs or cysts to develop at the last finger joints. Arthritis in the hands and fingers can eventually make it hard to do daily tasks. For example, my mom has severe arthritis in her hand and finger joints. The joint swelling in her knuckles has caused the tendons to not move correctly when she tries to grab hold of something, making her fingers stick out awkwardly. She struggles with daily tasks because of this.

I also have bone spurs on my finger joints and have had a cyst on one finger. You don’t realize how much you depend on your hands until every movement is painful.

Treatment Of Osteoarthritis

There are medications that can help reduce arthritis pain and sometimes a joint replacement is required, but there is no cure for arthritis.

Medications

If pain in a joint or joints bothers you, check with your doctor. Over-the-counter pain medication is helpful for easing OA pain, but always check with your doctor to make sure they’re safe for you to take.

Topicals are medicines you rub onto the skin. Examples are: BioFreeze, Tiger Balm, and Voltaren. Check out The 9 Best Arthritis Creams of 2023 for more info.

I use Painless Joint by Resonant Botanicals. It works well on knee and shoulder pain for me. However, it’s a bit too greasy to use on my hands. If you’d like to try it, here’s a link for 20% off: http://resonantbotanicals.refr.cc/kathrynforsyth

Assistive Devices

Opening Jars

If you suffer from arthritis in your hands, there are many devices available to help you. An occupational therapist is a good place to start if you’re really struggling. Your doctor can refer you to one.

I use assistive devices most in the kitchen. There are a variety of devices to help with opening jars. I have several types and use them all depending on the jar. Try out several different ones until you find something that you like.

Devices to help you open jars with osteoarthritis.Pin
Devices to help you open jars with osteoarthritis.

Compression Gloves and Splints

Compression gloves provide light pressure that helps to stabilize your joints which reduces pain. Splints are more rigid and help to immobilize the joint. Compression gloves and splints are available at most drug stores. Check with your doctor before using splints so you get the correct one for you.

Check out Arthritis Compression Gloves for more info.

Tools With Wide-Grip Handles

When choosing any tool, look for ones with wide handles. Wide handles decrease the amount of grip you need to use for the task.

See Assistive Devices for Arthritis of the Hands: Protecting Your Joints for detailed info.

Wrap-up of Osteoarthritis

Arthritis is painful. Work with your doctor and an occupational or physical therapist to help you do daily tasks with the least amount of pain and in a way that protects your joints from further injury.

For more information on managing pain see: My Favorite Pain Relief Tools: Part 1

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By Kathryn

I'm a writer, disabled registered nurse, and former home school parent of 6 children ages 19 to 32. I'm also a domestic abuse survivor.

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