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“Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos – the trees, the clouds, everything.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Statistically, osteoarthritis is the most prevalent joint condition. Induced by a multitude of root causes, it is ultimately one of those conditions that has a wealth of treatments ranging from the utilization of wholistic healing methods such as joint healing oils, or the administration of surgery to facilitate the healing or replacement of the joint.
Joints are the union of two or more bones. As a mechanical unit, the free flow of the joint is facilitated by the natural lubricating agents known as cartilage. Cartilage is soft protective tissue that lines the exterior of the bone. Under the condition of osteoarthritis, the cartilage degenerates and exposes the bones to each other. The painful condition results in limited mobility of the patients. While the majority of osteoarthritis cases take place in older patients, who have reduced healing capabilities, athletes and active individuals who place stress on their joints, can also develop arthritis. If left untreated, arthritis can induce disability.
Causes of Osteoarthritis
It was highlighted in the previous introduction that cartilage degeneration is what ultimately leads to the joint damage associated with osteoarthritis. Joint damage as a whole has several root causes. If you had an injury for instance that resulted in the dislocation of a joint, there can also be resultant joint damage that can also inflict symptoms of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis does have genetic links, so ensure that your family medical history is assessed, and you’ll be able to identify with your doctor’s help, if you or your family members are at risk of the condition.
The Science of Cartilage
As a tough, flexible coating to the bone, when cartilage degenerates, the friction between the joint’s bones can cause the exposed surfaces to become jagged. Cartilage, with time and age, is not a naturally self healing mechanism, because there is limited blood supply to the area. Biologics however, is beginning to enable the facilitation of healing by introducing the appropriate growth factors that will enable the cartilage to rebuild. The symptoms that patients experience include: pain as an initial indicator of a joint issue. With inflammation, the joint will swell and tenderness be experienced. As the joints lose their flexibility, there will be stiffness experienced, often in the morning upon rising. Your orthopaedic surgeon will assess your condition and determine the best way for you to approach your treatment. With all health conditions, with time, you can actually initiate healing via the facilitation of the right internal chemistry. A good and proper diet, can reduce the internal inflammation that you experience.
THE STAGES OF OSTEOARTHRITIS
Osteoarthritis has the following five classifications:
Stage 0 – Normal
Stage 1 – Minor
Stage 2 – Mild
Stage 3 – Moderate
Stage 4 – Severe
Consult with your orthopaedic surgeon to identify what stage of the progression you are on, if you are diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Cartilage loss is most prevalent in the higher tiers of the osteoarthritis scale. You are also at risk of increases in swelling and inflammation, and joint instability.
There are some conditions that take a long time to actually develop and diagnose. Osteoarthritis is one of those conditions. It is often during the periods of intense pain that one would be led to an orthopaedic specialist for the root cause of this discomfort. During your consultation, your orthopaedic surgeon will usually utilize a diagnostic tool such as an X-ray or an MRI image, in order to see the internal functions of the joint. For further details of your internal chemistry, blood tests, joint fluid tests and other tests can be conducted in order to eliminate additional root causes. From the surface, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis do have almost identical symptoms. The critical tests will provide your orthopaedic specialist with the decision making tools that will enable your condition to be diagnosed.
OSTEOARTHRITIS SYMPTOM MANAGEMENT
Once you are diagnosed, the next phase of your health management is to ensure that the symptoms are kept at bay. If you’re at Stage 0 for instance, you will start your preventative treatments that will ensure that you don’t degenerate to Stage 1 etc. Initially, your orthopaedic surgeon will prescribe treatments such as over the counter medication, in order to start the pain management process, and to counter the joint discomfort. With the appropriate lifestyle changes, you can live a normal life. Coupled with gentle exercises such as walking and swimming, you can keep your joints mobile and functioning as close to their peak as possible. If you are overweight, via diet change or an exercise regime, you will benefit from losing weight. Excess weight on joints that are not at their peak, will only increase the joint pain. Where possible, utilize heat to warm the area, and facilitate blood flow to the aching joint. Natural remedies such as fish oil, glucosamine chondroitin and ginger have been found to improve the body’s healing capability.
With a little due diligence, you will take the time to learn about your body and how it functions. Instead of worrying, you can control your health and allow your body to heal via the various available treatments. Everything in life, is a choice that you make in order to have the maximum longevity possible.