Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
Arthritis is painful – really painful – and most people just write off joint pain as something that’s bound to happen as you age. So they don’t receive the medical attention that could have greatly improved their condition.
Or perhaps they don’t know what type of arthritis they have, and don’t get the particular treatment they need.
Because after all – there are actually many different types of arthritis. The term is just a category where lots of different joint pain conditions and joint diseases fall into. These types of arthritis can have all sorts symptoms, causes, and treatments.
One of these types of arthritis is osteoarthritis, and it just so happens to be the most common. Around 27 million people in the United States have this form of arthritis and deal with the symptoms every day.
The key to making life not only bearable, but also enjoyable when you have osteoarthritis is to head to your doctor at the first sign of this disease. That’s why it’s super important to know all about the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Below you’re going to learn all about osteoarthritis – what it is, the symptoms, who experiences these symptoms, and what you can do to improve them.
What Is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis goes by two other names that help paint the picture of what this disease does: degenerative joint disease and degenerative arthritis.
In order that our hard bones don’t wear and tear on each other, rubbery and slippery cartilage covers them at each end. This barrier is firm and pliable, so your bones can hit each other all day long and be just fine.
When you have osteoarthritis, however, that cartilage has broken down or is in the process.
As you can imagine, the problem does not stop with the breakdown of cartilage. Without that protective barrier, bones can break and chip. They develop spurs (which are a type of growth). Those bone chips can float about and cause even more pain.
Eventually, the cartilage will fully break down and leave you with bone on bone grinding. The damage continues from there.
Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
Here are the symptoms you can expect to feel when you have osteoarthritis:
- Limited range of motion
- Loss of flexibility
- A clicking/cracking sound when you bend the joint
- Feeling a grating sensation
The pain and stiffness can often come after you’ve been inactive (like sleeping or sitting at your desk all day) or when you’ve been very active (like after exercises or a long day of shopping.)
Where Can You Experience These Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?
Below are some common spots where you may feel the effects of osteoarthritis. Of course, osteoarthritis could come to many different joints. But these are the most predominant.
- Lower back
RELATED: 8 Foods to Avoid With Arthritis
Other Negatives From Osteoarthritis
Sometimes when you have a disease or condition, you behave in such a way that you can bring on other conditions.
In the case of osteoarthritis, the pain and stiffness may make you significantly more sedentary than you would have been otherwise. This is why osteoarthritis can sometimes lead to diabetes or heart disease. The disease itself doesn’t cause it, but your lack of activity might.
Another way this works is through falls. The chance of a fall goes up about 30% for those with osteoarthritis.
Who Suffers From These Osteoarthritis Symptoms?
Technically anyone of any age can develop osteoarthritis. However, it is most common in people over the age of 65.
Other than age, there are some risk factors that make you more susceptible:
- Being overweight or obese
- Being a woman
- Regularly overusing a particular joint (this can often happen in repetitive physical jobs)
- Having hurt or injured your joint previously
- Not having enough strength in your quadriceps
- Receiving family genes of osteoarthritis predisposition
What To Do When You Have These Symptoms?
The first thing you should do is head to your doctor. They will do all sorts of tests to land on the diagnosis including:
- Joint fluid tests
- Blood tests
- And more
They will be able to determine exactly what type of arthritis is causing your pain. If you ended up with an osteoarthritis diagnosis. Follow the following 8 tips below.
Treating The Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
There’s nothing you can do to cure these signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis and make them go away completely. That’s the bad news. But there’s good news. There’s so much you can do to treat and improve the symptoms. Here are 8 of the top options:
1. Get Moving
When people have joints that hurt and get stiff, probably the last thing they want to do is exercise – but that’s exactly the thing they should be doing. Low impact activities like walking or swimming can get you moving without added pain.
Also incorporate some strength training so your muscles can support your structure.
All your physical activity should also include a stretching practice. Both yoga and tai chi are recommended by the Arthritis Foundation. Staying flexible will help prevent stiffness.
2. Manage Your Weight
We already know that obesity is a risk factor in developing osteoarthritis. But once you have the disease, being overweight or obese can dramatically increase your symptoms. All that weight will be bearing down on bones that are losing cartilage for support.
Keep this process basic. A diet overhaul and a regular exercise routine (see above!) is absolutely necessary to manage your weight… which in turn manages your osteoarthritis symptoms.
One cool thing about your diet is a lot of the foods that can help you lose weight are also anti-inflammatory in nature. This will greatly help with your pain and swelling. Fill up on:
3. Visit A Physical Therapist
If you’re going to be starting an exercise routine to help with your osteoarthritis symptoms and/or help you lose weight, you are going to want to consult a physical therapist. They can guide you through movements that are both safe and helpful for your joints.
Beyond an exercise routine, it is extremely beneficial for those with osteoarthritis to visit a physical therapist to learn about various isolation exercises that help your joints, as well as day-to-day tricks to prevent pain.
Here’s an example of 3 of those exercises that a physical therapist may have you perform:
They will guide you through temperature therapy as well – how and when to use ice packs verses heating pads.
4. Get A Massage
Massage is a great way to reduce your osteoarthritis pain. Plus, it can improve range of motion, joint function, and stiffness too.
Be sure to find a massage therapist who is specializes in helping people with conditions like arthritis. It’s worth spending some extra money on a professional who can take special care during your session.
As an added bonus, massages can help you reduce the stress that so often comes alongside the chronic pain of osteoarthritis.
5. Use Devices
If something can help you be more mobile with less pain, why would you say no? Luckily, there are quite a few assistive devices that can make your life much easier.
- Using canes or walkers and even scooters can help you function on days when your pain or range of motion are really bad.
- Orthotics in your shoes can help support your alignment.
- Jar openers can help you open things when your hands hurt.
Your physical therapist can often help you find what devices will work best for you depending upon what joint has the osteoarthritis.
6. Take A Medication
Lots of different types of prescription and over-the-counter medications can help you cope with your symptoms of osteoarthritis. Here are some of the options you may come across:
- NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help you take the edge off your pain
- Corticosteroids: These prescription anti-inflammatories are often injected at the doctor’s office
- Analgesics: These pain relievers include narcotics – they can provide significant pain reduction, but do often come with side effects or dependency issues
Talk to your doctor about the right option for you.
7. Take An All-Natural Anti-Inflammatory
Luckily there are some all-natural supplements that have been proven to naturally lower inflammation in your body. Top ingredients to look for are:
- Turmeric Curcumin: Turmeric is a powerhouse natural anti-inflammatory
- Boswellia: More commonly known as Indian Frankincense, boswellia can significantly decrease joint pain
- Boron: This mineral helps calcium and magnesium work better to strengthen your bones and joints, plus it helps reduce inflammation
- Celedrin: This fatty acid combo reduces inflammation – and studies have shown that it reduces osteoarthritis pain specifically, improving the ability to walk by 45%
- B vitamins: Not only can these vitamins help boost your energy to work out, but they also help our immune system, which prevents inflammation issues
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D has a strong connection to lowered inflammation, yet most people are deficient – taking a supplement and getting more sunshine is imperative for those with osteoarthritis
- Trace minerals: Lots of other trace minerals help reduce inflammation, so it’s important to make sure you are getting the daily requirements regularly
My favorite way to take these supplements is through Eu Natural’s Primal Joint Support & Anti-Inflammatory. It is specifically designed to help those with joint pain, swelling, and stiffness decrease their inflammation and feel better on the long-term.
This last case scenario can often provide significant help to people with later stages of osteoarthritis. Surgeries can either repair the damage of joints you have or replace your joints entirely.
Normally this option is reserved for hips or knees – though it is possible to get it elsewhere.
Dealing With The Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
The fact that you cannot cure osteoarthritis does not mean you cannot do many different things to improve the symptoms and take control of your life and body.
So don’t just accept joint pain as an inevitable part of aging. Go to your doctor at the first sign of osteoarthritis symptoms and start following the 8 tips above. The earlier you work on improving these symptoms, the better off your body will be.