What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis, abbreviated OA, is the commonest type of arthritis. At least 27 million Americans are affected by it. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease. Major characteristics of this disease include the breakdown of cartilage. Cartilage is a tissue that acts as a cushion for your bones. It allows for smooth movement of your joints. Osteoarthritis affects the following areas:
- Lower back
This article discusses how you can ease osteoarthritis pain with lifestyle modifications and treatments.
1. Weight loss
Weight loss plays a major role in relieving osteoarthritis pain. A 2012 study published in the journal Arthritis found that weight loss due to bariatric surgery greatly improved the quality of life of osteoarthritis patients. They also experienced an improvement in their abilities to engage in daily tasks and participate in sports.
Two important ways of boosting weight loss include exercising and making healthy changes to your diet. These methods also help to ease osteoarthritis pain.
Pain from osteoarthritis can make exercising difficult. Research studies have shown that exercises strengthen the tissues and muscles around the joint. This reduces pain and inflammation. It is important to note that exercise is a primary component of lifestyle modification that is necessary to deal with osteoarthritis. It is a key to losing weight.
You can build your strength and burn calories with exercise like cycling, aquatics, and walking.
3. Cold and hot compresses are important as well
You can reduce the pain and inflammation with icing. Reusable cold packs are convenient. However, you mustn’t apply them to the skin for more than 20 minutes at a time. spending a few minutes in a hot tub or using a small heating pad on your joints for a few minutes before exercise can loosen your joints and ease your movements.
4. Dietary supplements and medications
Tylenol (acetaminophen) relieves the pain of osteoarthritis. However, it does not affect inflammation. Naproxen and Ibuprofen have anti-inflammatory potentials and also relieve pain. However, if you overuse them, then you put yourself at risk of kidney or liver problems.
If the medications are not effective, your doctor might prescribe a short-term course of tramadol (Ultram). Research has shown that dietary supplements like chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine help to repair damaged cartilage.
5. Physical therapy, braces, splints, and inserts
Immobilizing an arthritic joint reduces pain and inflammation. You can also use special splints and knee braces in other areas. The thing is, these devices do not treat the primary causes of pain. Instead, they help to relieve the symptoms.
You may also consult a physical therapist to guide you on stretches and exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve your range of motion.
6. Shots and injections may help
If the methods mentioned above don’t help, then you can try a corticosteroid injection. A corticosteroid injection reduces inflammation, which in turn reduces pain.
Surgery is usually the last option of treatment. Important surgical procedures that you may try include:
- Bone fusion: Bone fusion increases stability and eases pain. This procedure, however, eliminates your joint’s flexibility.
- Osteotomy: In an osteotomy, your leg will be realigned so that the force of your joint is transferred away from the affected area.
- Joint replacement: Your joint surfaces may be replaced with metal or plastic components. These components can last up to two decades, thus restoring your active lifestyle.
Osteoarthritis is quite challenging. It affects mobility. There are several treatment options available. Weight loss and exercise are also great for relieving the pain of osteoarthritis. Discuss with your doctor, and lead an active/informed lifestyle.