Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is mainly a result of the aging process everyone goes through. At
the ends of bones are pieces of cartilage that help protect the bone from rubbing on other bones. Over time, the cartilage begins to be worn down, which allows the bones in a joint to begin rubbing
against one another. Osteoarthritis can damage any joint in the body, but it is most common in the most flexible joints like the hands, spine, hips, and knees. Osteoarthritis commonly causes pain
in the joints it damages, and this is usually the symptom that gets individuals to visit a doctor. From there, the doctor will recommend a treatment that best suits the individual patient.
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Physical And Occupational Therapy
In treating osteoarthritis, physical and occupational therapy each take on a huge role to help patients. Physical therapy is important in teaching individuals how to relieve pain without damaging the joints more and with fewer medications. Physical therapy will focus on improving a patient’s range of motion so they can continue to keep up their daily lives. Physical therapists teach patients a diverse range of exercises that help increase muscle strength around the affected joint, which increases stability and decreases pain. Occupational has the same overall goal as physical therapy but with a slightly different focus. Occupational therapy aims to help improve activities of daily living by teaching the patient ways to alter the home and workplace so they are less irritating to the damaged joint. Occupational therapy may also provide assistive devices.
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In some cases, osteoarthritis can become incredibly painful for the patient suffering from it. After a while, a doctor may determine other treatment options are no longer appropriate for the patient, and then may recommend joint replacement surgery. This surgery is very beneficial for patients with unbearable pain, patients who have only one severely affected joint, and patients who don’t have other medical complications. Although the procedure used to have a much lower success rate, it has been increasing. This is attributable to two main reasons. One is artificial joints have been improved over the years. The other major reason is orthopedic surgeons have developed better and safer surgical techniques. Of course, despite improvements, there are still risks that come with any surgery, especially one as complex as joint replacement surgery. Typically, the patient will undergo physical therapy following the procedure.
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While it may appear to be counterintuitive, sometimes sports can help many patients with osteoarthritis. While it may not be smart to join incredibly demanding sports, playing pickleball, a little known sport, has been shown to be quite helpful for osteoarthritis. Pickleball is becoming more popular among older individuals because it promotes being physically fit while only being lightly demanding. In pickleball, players use racquets to hit a ball over a net, similar to tennis. The racquet is helpful for individuals who have osteoarthritis in the hands, elbows, or wrists. The game does not require a lot of running, but it promotes balance and agility. Pickleball also helps improve hand-eye coordination while building stamina and improving cardiovascular help. The sport can also help individuals recover after joint replacement surgery.
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Cortisone is a hormone released by the adrenal glands during the body’s stress response. It has a widespread effect on the body by reducing pain. It does this by reducing inflammation. Cortisone injections use synthetic cortisone to achieve this same effect in a local area. In the case of osteoarthritis, the hormone is injected into the affected joint. The treatment is incredibly effective at relieving pain, but it does not last forever. This means, every once in a while, the patient must return for another cortisone treatment. Long-term use of cortisone treatment, however, can lead to serious side effects. Some patients flare up in response to injections, diabetes patients may experience an increase in blood glucose levels, and some individuals develop infections at the site of the injections. Individuals who use cortisone for a long time can cause damage to the body’s soft tissues, and they may develop Cushing’s syndrome, which results in many serious medical problems. Still, for those who use these injections sporadically, the treatment can be incredibly beneficial.
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Perhaps the most common form of treatment, pain medication provides an important form of treatment for patients suffering from osteoarthritis. Some pain relievers, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, can be purchased from a pharmacy without a prescription. Other medications typically have a much greater effect, but many are controlled substances that require a prescription from a doctor during an office visit. The strict helps ensure patients do not become addicted and do not get harmed by possible side effects. Some pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, even greatly reduce joint inflammation. When choosing to use these sorts of medication, a doctor should almost always be consulted. A physician will be able to let patients know which medication is the most appropriate for each case, as well as the recommended dosage to take.