Osteoarthritis is the # 1 type of arthritis. Could you have one or more risk factors? That is what this blog post will help you determine.
Crick, creaky joints. Stiffness in the joints. Pain flares. Acute or chronic pain. Feeling like any movement is almost impossible due to the throbbing pain.
Arthritis is a group of over 100 conditions dealing with inflammation of the joints. Arthritis is degenerative and painful causing more disability than any other condition or disease.
It is believed that arthritis to affect 27 to 42% of the population. The Arthritis Foundation states that in 2048 the number of persons that will possibly be diagnosed with arthritis is estimated at 78 million.
The common type of Arthritis is osteoarthritis with over 30 million people in the US alone. It is also the most common chronic joint condition.
Osteoarthritis is the break down of the cartilage or protective cushion of the joint. It is also called degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis. It commonly affects your hands, knees, hips or spine but it can affect your shoulder, elbow, wrist and ankle.
What are the symptoms of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis varies from person to person. According to OnHealth Symptoms of osteoarthritis generally slowly over time.
Some people with osteoarthritis have little to no pain while others suffer from regular osteoarthritis flares or even chronic pain.
The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
- Pain – Pain associated with the use of the involved joint especially weight bearing joints like the knees.
- Stiffness – Stiffness and pain immediately after inactivity which is referred to as a “gel phenomenon.” Do you have morning stiffness?
- Loss of flexibility
- Restricted mobility
- Bone on bone-crunching feeling or the grating sound of bone rubbing against bone.
- Knobby fingers – If you have osteoarthritis in your hands, then you can develop knobby enlargements of the small joints of the fingers. Small, bony knobs on the middle joints of the fingers are called Bouchard’s nodes. When they occur at the joints closest to the nail, they are known as Heberden’s nodes.
- Bone Spurs – Sometimes, small bony extensions grow on the edges of osteoarthritic joints.
Groups at Risk
Malnourished/ Poor Nutrition/ Osteoarthritis and Diet
According to the Harvard Medical School, our bodies need over 30 nutrients that our bodies don’t make.
We need these essential vitamins and minerals for every biological system that keeps us alive and allow us to perform various functions. Our bones and joints are no different. They require specific vitamins such as Ca and Mg as well as minerals such as Zn and Mn.
I explained more of this in a previous blog, particularly how it causes sudden joint pain. I also share how to get relief in those instances. Here is a bit of a teaser.
Osteoarthritis is also among the most common health issue for Business Owners along with depression. We will discuss the connection between osteoarthritis and depression a bit later.
Business owners are vulnerable to osteoarthritis due to the following reasons:
- Poor nutrition and dehydration deprives the body of essential nutrients and weakens the bone frame. This makes the bones more susceptible to injury and degeneration.
- Many Business owners spend many hours at a desk. The poor posture, lack of physical activity and strain of several joints including the neck, elbow and wrist all increase the risk of osteoarthritis.
- Business owners are usually stressed over finances. Stress is a trigger for several inflammatory pathways that can manifest itself as joint pain or osteoarthritis.
- Lack of sleep is often a problem for Business Owners especially when still working a full-time job. The body needs the restorative power of quality sleep. Sleeplessness causes a major breakdown of many biological systems leading to several conditions including arthritis.
Osteoarthritis and Age/Seniors
As I mentioned before osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear. Hence, it is believed that this is the reason many persons of advanced age suffer from arthritis.
Please note that the data shows that persons over 60yrs are most affected by osteoarthritis, but it can affect younger people, particularly where they have had a joint injury or joint surgery.
This is why I wish to suggest that other factors may give a better explanation or a more complete picture.
- When you ask elderly persons about the joint pain, they usually point to a fall or injury when they were younger. These injuries went either unnoticed or untreated becoming more pronounced in later years.
- Similar observation with old surgeries.
- One thing that does happen with age particularly after a lifetime of poor eating habits, many seniors are not able to process their food and absorb the nutrients optimally.
- Some seniors may sleep often but not for long and hence may not be getting proper rest.
- Lack of physical activity. if you don’t use it, you lose it.
Women over the age of 55
- Women have a thicker adipose tissue and tend to have higher rates of weight and obesity. Weight has a direct impact on your knees.
- Women have wider hips than men. It is believed that this causes the knee and hip to have less alignment which makes it more prone to injury.
- Hormonal imbalance particularly low estrogen levels have been linked to the breakdown of the protective layer of joints.
It has been observed that women on hormone replacement therapy have had more replacement surgeries. For example, the age range for most knee replacement is 50-80. 60 % are women.
Persons with Intense or Repeated Physical Activity
Certain job hazards can increase the risk of osteoarthritis. If your job requires you to kneel or squat for more than one hour each day, your likelihood of developing osteoarthritis increases.
A recent study found persons with intense physical labour has an increased risk of arthritis, particularly back pain.
These repeated activities put a strain and wear out the related joints. Add poor posture, poor preventative actions and duration of actions then the risk of back pain increases significantly.
Then some sports are more likely to lead to osteoarthritis. Football, gymnastics, skateboarding, basketball, and soccer are a few popular American sports known to be osteoarthritis risks. Again female soccer players tend to have 4 x the knee injuries compared to male players.
Make sure to observe proper form and use braces.
Osteoarthritis and Deformity
The impact of osteoarthritis is limited to the joints, unlike Rheumatoid arthritis that affects the internal organs such as the lungs. However, osteoarthritis can cause significant, loss of function and decreased mobility, and deformity.
Bowing of the knees can result from severe loss of cartilage in the knee from osteoarthritis.
Spinal Bone Spurs
Bony spurs in the spine can irritate adjacent nerves to cause numbness, tingling, and pain in areas supplied by the nerves affected.
Have you been diagnosed with osteoarthritis?
You can get more details from the Arthritis Foundation and the Arthritis Organization. Basically, the doctor has to create a history from your answers to questions such as
- Family and Personal Health history
- The type, location and severity of the pain
- Other existing medical conditions.
During the physical exam, your doctor will check your affected joint for tenderness, swelling, redness and flexibility.
The physician may recommend or perform 3 types of tests:
- Joint aspiration or fluid analysis- Fluid is drawn from your joint and tested for inflammation.
- X-rays –An X-ray can show the space between two joints revealing a loss of cartilage. It also shows bone spurs around a joint.
- MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce detailed images of bone and soft tissues, including cartilage.
- Blood tests – tests cannot determine osteoarthritis but can help to rule out other causes of joint pain like rheumatoid and gout arthritis
Osteoarthritis and Treatment
Reversal of osteoarthritis is not talked about much in the medical establishment. In fact, they say there is no cure. Many times pain pills or expensive surgeries are prescribed. These include:
Popular Pills for Arthritis Pain Management
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others)
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Over-the-counter NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen eg Advil, Motrin IB, and naproxen sodium like Aleve. Stronger ones are available through prescription.
Please note that they do not treat arthritis but only increase your tolerance to pain temporarily.
NSAIDs can cause stomach upset, heart problems, bleeding problems, liver and kidney damage and death. NSAIDs as gels, applied to the skin over the affected joint, have fewer side effects and but not always as effective.
In this blog post, I expose the deadly truth of pain of the drugs used for managing arthritis pain.
I found this one very disturbing. That is the use of antidepressants to “treat” arthritis pain. There are many, one popular one is Duloxetine (Cymbalta), an antidepressant, that is also approved to treat chronic pain, including osteoarthritis pain
This can include joint alignment or replacement surgeries. The common risks with replacement surgeries may include swelling, blood clots and infection of the site of the incision. In terms of hip replacement, you can also experience, dislocation or even a fracture in your hip. These artificial materials are said to last between 10 to 15 years.
Injections of corticosteroid medications called Cortisone injections.
Mayo Clinic states that this medication can worsen joint damage over time. Injections of hyaluronic acid may offer pain relief and increase lubrication but are quite expensive.
There is a better ways than popping killer pain pills and surgery.
Alternative Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Alternative methods like acupuncture
- Supplements for joints like Glucosamine
- Home natural remedies
- Improved diet for osteoarthritis
- Lifestyle changes
Osteoarthritis and Depression
Besides the pain and discomfort associated with osteoarthritis (understatement right), there are increasing problems with sleep, mobility and depression.
Anxiousness and worry are natural reactions particularly when pain is the only constant in your day.
Who wants to have trouble sleeping, be lacklustre and tired all day?
… and have only pain to look forward to every day.
Watching life go by as you have to sit it out because you have trouble doing simple everyday tasks like taking a shower, or changing your clothes.
Then you try medications that give no real relief.
What’s even worse those same medications can impact your health even your joint health and mental health.
As a business owner, you also worry about your activities, operations and other commitments of your business. What about revenue when you are in too much pain to think clearly much less manage your business?
As I said, worry is natural, you just have to create coping mechanisms that allow you to function the best you can.
Being educated and willing to try non-traditional options can open a world of possibilities. That is what I did and that is how I went from almost no Ca to get back over 85% use of my arm after a fall that could have left me paralyzed.
Your food affects your mood. Studies have shown that people with higher levels of antioxidant carotenoids, vitamin B vitamins and low fat carbs are less likely to suffer from depression.
Then you have to lean on the support of friends and family. Not to mention do things that will distract you from your condition and manage the stress.
A Possible Alternative
You don’t have to depend on pills and surgeries to get relief for your joint pain or arthritis.
You don’t have to opt out of activities with your kids or loved ones anymore.
You don’t have to feel frustrated with not being able to perform simple daily living activities like walking up or downstairs.