Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis. It is also becoming one of the most frequently diagnosed forms of osteoarthritis. By some estimates, the frequency of diagnosis is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years. For instance, one estimate says that by the year 2030, some 70 million people will be at risk of developing osteoarthritis. Part of this dramatic increase is that it is expected that more people will be living past the age of 65. This will put a more people at risk of developing osteoarthritis, since it affects this portion of the population more. Although osteoarthritis indeed affects the elderly more, it is not unheard of to find diagnoses among the very young, since the disease can affect anyone who has suffered from some form of joint injury.
What are the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis? Like most other forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis causes discomfort or pain in the joints and muscles. Osteoarthritis tends to affect patients most in the weight bearing joints. These include the knees, ankles, hands, arms, and hips. Other major symptoms that may help distinguish osteoarthritis from other forms of arthritis include snapping of joints, the appearance of bony growths in the joints, loss of joint movement, stiffness of joints accompanied by swelling, and an overall decrease in loss of movement in the joints.
Osteoarthritis is often referred to as the “wear and tear” form of arthritis. This refers to the fact that osteoarthritis is believed to be caused by the gradual wear on the body’s joints. However, osteoarthritis may also be the result of joint injuries. Although the specific scientific cause of osteoarthritis has not yet been explained, most health professionals agree that age is the primary indirect cause of osteoarthritis. Over the years, our joints become worn down after a lifetime of use. This explains why the majority of osteoarthritis patients are over the age of 65. It is also generally agreed upon that obesity and joint injuries are two major risk factors for osteoarthritis. Many doctors will often prescribe weight loss as part of a patient’s treatment since the body’s joints cannot bear the extra weight it must sustain comfortably. Another significant risk factor for osteoarthritis involves the presence of congenital defects. Many individuals may be at greater risk of developing osteoarthritis both in early or later life because of the presence of potentially joint damaging congenital defects.
Individuals with osteoarthritis may be exacerbating the condition through certain activities. It is recommended that patients with osteoarthritis restrain from weight bearing physical activities such as running and jogging. In some cases, patients who have not yet been diagnosed may mistake the symptoms of their osteoarthritis for injury. Although these types of physical activities may have to be greatly reduced, some form of regular physical activity continues to be advised. Some activities that are recommended for osteoarthritis patients include walking, swimming, and yoga. These are physical activities that allow osteoarthritis patients to remain active, and that have been shown to have positive effects on the symptoms of osteoarthritis.