What is osteoarthritis?


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Osteoarthritis is believed to affect approximately 10% of the English population. The risks increase with advancing age and this condition affects a large majority of over 70 year-olds.  What causes osteoarthritis? Can it be prevented or slowed down? What treatments are available and how is it diagnosed? Senior Home Plus can answer your questions and provide advice.         

Causes and risk factors:

Osteoarthritis typically develops over time due to a combination of factors, including:

  1. Age: The risk of developing osteoarthritis increases with age, as the body's natural ability to repair and maintain joint structures diminishes over time.
  2. Previous joint injury: Injuries to joints, such as fractures or ligament tears, can increase the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis later in life.
  3. Obesity: Excess weight puts added stress on weight-bearing joints, such as the knees and hips, accelerating the breakdown of cartilage.
  4. Genetics: There may be a genetic predisposition to osteoarthritis, with certain individuals inheriting a susceptibility to the condition from their parents.
  5. Joint overuse: Repetitive stress on joints from activities such as sports or manual labor can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis:

The signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis can vary from person to person but often include:

  1. Joint pain: Persistent or intermittent pain in affected joints, typically worsened by activity and relieved by rest.
  2. Stiffness: Reduced flexibility and stiffness in joints, particularly in the morning or after periods of inactivity.
  3. Swelling: Inflammation and swelling around affected joints, leading to discomfort and limited mobility.
  4. Joint instability: Feeling of joint instability or weakness, making it difficult to perform daily activities.
  5. Limited range of motion: Difficulty moving joints through their full range of motion, resulting in stiffness and functional limitations.

Management and treatment:

While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, various treatment options and management strategies can help alleviate symptoms and improve overall function. These may include:

  • Medications: Pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, and corticosteroid injections may be prescribed to manage pain and inflammation.
  • Physical therapy: Tailored exercise programs can strengthen muscles, improve joint flexibility, and enhance overall joint function.
  • Lifestyle modifications: Maintaining a healthy weight, practicing joint-friendly activities, and using assistive devices can help reduce stress on affected joints.
  • Surgical interventions: In severe cases, joint replacement surgery may be recommended to alleviate pain and restore mobility.

Osteoarthritis is a common and often debilitating condition that affects many seniors, but it doesn't have to define their quality of life. By understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and implementing appropriate management strategies, elderly individuals can effectively manage osteoarthritis and continue to lead active and fulfilling lives.

For personalized assistance in finding a care home equipped to support seniors with osteoarthritis, contact us at 0230 608 0055 or fill out our online form.

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