Strictly for Seniors
A message from the Arthritis Foundation
Osteoarthrits (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. Four out of five adults age 50 or older suffer from one form of OA or another.
Osteoarthritis is a joint disease that mostly affects cartilage. Cartilage is the slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint. Healthy cartilage allows bones to glide over each other. It also helps absorb shock of movement. In osteoarthritis, the top layer of cartilage breaks down and wears away. This allows bones under the cartilage to rub together. The rubbing causes pain, swelling, and loss of motion of the joint. Over time, the joint may lose its normal shape. Also, bone spurs may grow on the edges of the joint. Bits of bone or cartilage can break off and float inside the joint space, which causes more pain and damage.
People with osteoarthritis often have joint pain and reduced motion. Unlike some other forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis affects only joints and not internal organs. Rheumatoid arthritis - the second most common form of arthritis - affects other parts of the body besides the joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis.
What Is Osteoarthritis?
Shedding some pounds if you are overweight might also be a way to halt OA. Those extra pounds add up to more wear and tear on your knees, ankles, hips, back, and other joints that support you. So it's a good idea to eat foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which will help manage your weight. And limit your intake of fatty and sugary foods, while getting your protein from legumes and fish instead of red meats.
Who Gets Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis occurs most often in older people. Younger people sometimes get osteoarthritis primarily from joint injuries.
What Causes Osteoarthritis?
The cause of osteoarthritis is unknown. Factors that might cause it include:
- Being overweight
- Getting older
- Joint injury
- Joints that are not properly formed
- A genetic defect in joint cartilage
- Stresses on the joints from certain jobs and playing sports
How Is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?
Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint. It occurs most often in the hands, knees, hips, and spine.
Warning signs of osteoarthritis are:
- Stiffness in a joint after getting out of bed or sitting for a long time
- Swelling or tenderness in one or more joints
- A crunching feeling or the sound of bone rubbing on bone
No single test can diagnose osteoarthritis. Most doctors use several methods to diagnose the disease and rule out other problems:
- Medical history
- Physical exam
- X rays
- Other tests such as blood tests or exams of the fluid in the joints
How Is Osteoarthritis Treated?
Due to possible anti-inflammatory effects, cat's claw may help to relieve pain of arthritis. It may also be useful for lowering blood pressure and treating some cancers. Due to possible anti-inflammatory effects, cat's claw may help to relieve pain of arthritis. It may also be useful for lowering blood pressure and treating some cancers. Doctors often combine treatments to fit a patient's needs, lifestyle, and health. Osteoarthritis treatment has four main goals:
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- Improve joint function
- Keep a healthy body weight
- Control pain
- Achieve a healthy lifestyle
Osteoarthritis treatment plans can involve:
- Weight control
- Rest and joint care
- Nondrug pain relief techniques to control pain
- Medicines or supplements such as Glucosamine
- Complementary and alternative therapies
How Can Self-Care and a "Good-Health Attitude" Help?
Three kinds of programs help people learn about osteoarthritis and self-care and improve their good-health attitude:
- Patient education programs
- Arthritis self-management programs
- Arthritis support groups
These programs teach people about osteoarthritis and its treatments. They also have clear and long-lasting benefits. People in these programs learn to:
- Exercise and relax
- Talk with their doctor or other health care providers
- Solve problems
People with osteoarthritis find that self-management programs help them:
- Understand the disease
- Reduce pain while staying active
- Cope with their body, mind, and emotions
- Have more control over the disease
- Live an active, independent life
People with a good health attitude:
- Focus on what they can do, not what they cannot do
- Focus on their strengths, not their weaknesses
- Break down activities into small tasks that are easy to manage
- Build fitness and healthy eating into their daily routines
- Develop ways to lower and manage stress
- Balance rest with activity
- Develop a support system of family, friends, and health care providers
See also: Omega for Osteoarthritis