The most common form of arthritis is Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. It occurs when joint cartilage breaks down, which can happen over time. Osteoarthritis Symptoms often develop slow, and then gradually worsen. The cause of Osteoarthritis is unclear; though researchers believe it to be a combination of factors such as: the aging process, stress or injury to joints, obesity, heredity, and/or muscle weakness. If you are experiencing some discomfort from what you believe to be Osteoarthritis you may want to see a physician for more Osteoarthritis Information and treatment.
Osteoarthritis Signs and Symptoms: The most common symptom is joint pain, they may hurt with movement and often times become stiff causing the loss of ability. Stiffness is not uncommon after periods of inactivity; like after a nap, or a nights sleep. The joints may be tender to the touch, or even make a crackling noise when moved. You can develop bone spurs; which feel like hard lumps that have formed around the effected area. Smaller joints like in your fingers may enlarge causing a loss of flexibility, as you lose the ability to move them in their full range of motion. Your toes may develop bunions; causing them to become red and swollen. Some people will notice the physical changes long before they experience the symptoms of pain.
There are additional Osteoarthritis Tests and Diagnosis that a physician can request aside from their initial exam. An x-ray can show a gap between the joint where the cartilage is breaking down. An x-ray would also indicate any bone spurs that may be developing around the joint. An MRI can view things that wont show on a regular x-ray (like soft tissue) to better the chances of seeing what’s causing the pain. Another common test is lab work. As much as some of us try to avoid the needle; blood work can help to rule out other causes of joint pain. Removal of some of the fluid from the effected area can be tested to check for things such as gout or infection.
Unfortunetly there is no cure for arthritis, but there is Osteoarthritis Treatment available. There are over the counter pain killers that may help with the first onset of pain with Osteoarthritis Symptoms but as the cartilage continues to breakdown and the joints become more irritated, you may find you need additional treatment. Your physician can prescribe you pain killers, or recommend cortizone shots. Another injection procedure called Viscosupplementation; which is commonly used in the knee joints. Currently they are researching its use in other joints as this provides cushioning in the knees. You may opt for a drug and needle free approach with therapy where you can learn to avoid joint stress. Those with finger joint pain may want to use a toothbrush with a wider grip, and knee pain suffers could use a special seat in the shower to relieve the pain of standing. If all else fails there are surgical procedures such as joint replacement, fusing or realigning of bones that be performed as well.
If your joints are experiencing swelling or stiffness that prolongs for more than a couple weeks at a time, see your physician. Talk over the treatment options with them to help decide on the one that will work best for you. If you are already taking medication and you are experiencing side effects such as: nausea, abdominal pain, drowsiness, constipation or black tarry stool, make an appointment with your doctor and see about trying something else.