We have all heard of the condition — and most of us know someone living with it. But did you know arthritis comes in multiple forms? These include rheumatoid, psoriatic, and osteoarthritis — with the last one being most common.
In India alone, 45% of women above the age of 65 suffer from it, and worldwide, 10-15% of all adults over 60 years of age live with this chronic condition.
Osteoarthritis commonly affects the joints of the fingers, base of the thumbs, hips, knees, neck, big toes, and lower back — and in some cases, the elbows and ankles.
As it progresses, day-to-day activities become tougher due to pain, inflammation, and tenderness. Even simple tasks like going for a walk, carrying groceries, and climbing stairs become painful and tiring.
However, awareness of the risk factors could help you manage the condition and even prevent its onset. So, watch out for what you can take care of from among the following:
Overweight individuals are more susceptible to osteoarthritis of the knees, hips, and even the spine. This is because the extra weight can put undue pressure on joints like hips and knees. This can turn into a vicious cycle — being overweight leads to the pain and the pain makes it harder to exercise and lose weight.
Jobs that require repeated use of joints can significantly increase your risk of this condition. These include occupations that involve squatting or kneeling for more than an hour every day, lifting heavy objects, climbing stairs, and excessive walking. Regular, intense pressure on one joint weakens it and leaves it susceptible to chronic pain.
Osteoarthritis is more common in women than in men. This can be attributed to multiple factors — one of them being that women are thought to have wider hips than men, which adversely affects the alignment of their knees.
Certain hereditary anomalies affect the form and stability of joints and these could cause osteoarthritis. For instance, people with bow legs are at greater risk due to abnormal distribution of weight on the knees.
Now that you’re aware of what might be putting you at risk, be mindful of these symptoms which can occur in both adults and children:
- Stiffness: This uncomfortable feeling is usually most severe when you wake up in the morning, or after a long period of inactivity. However, it can be resolved with just some light stretching and movement
- Grating sensation: This refers to a feeling of popping or cracking when moving the joint
- Loss of flexibility: This makes full utilization of the joint such as stretching, difficult
- Pain: The affected joints hurt and feel sore during or after any kind of movement
- Bone spurs: These are bony projections that develop along bone edges, due to joint friction and dysfunction and can be felt under the skin
So if you recognize these symptoms, or know someone going through them, there are things you can do to manage the pain:
Pain and anti-inflammatory medicine
Medicines for osteoarthritis are available as pills, syrups, creams or lotions, or they are injected into a joint. These could be analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids. In more severe cases, hyaluronic acid injections are given when the acid which occurs naturally in the joints breaks down.
These include nutritional supplements, acupuncture or acupressure, massage, relaxation techniques and hydrotherapy, among others.
An active lifestyle and a healthy diet will go a long way in managing your pain. Studies show that simple activities like taking a fun dance class or a walk around your neighborhood, or even doing some light movement can help reduce discomfort and maintain a healthy weight. Here are a couple of things you could try:
These are exercises performed against some form of resistance to strengthen the muscles that support your joints. You could try these with weights or a resistance band .
These movements — such as walking, cycling, and swimming — raise your heart rate and burn calories and burn calories. It can also improve your sleep and reduce pain.
Assistive devices can be used to make your life easier. These include:
Warmth and cold
Applying a hot-water bottle to the affected area can help ease pain, while an ice pack can bring down swelling. Try our Activeheat Orthopaedic Heating Belt and our Activecool Open Re-Freezable Cold Pack to ease your pain!
Splints and other supports
These are particularly useful when the alignment of your joints has been affected. Our Platinum Wrist Splint Binder with Silicone Pressure Pad comes with silicone padding that provides compression and helps rehabilitate the joint — while allowing free finger movement. The Elastic Wrist Splint (long size) also ensures adequate support and stability to the affected area
Choosing comfortable footwear designed for your specific needs can make a huge difference to your everyday life. Try Vissco’s Silicone Medial Arch Support, which helps maintain the arch of the foot. It helps to align the foot and while reducing pain.
In cases where the pain affects the ability to walk, Vissco’s range of walking and mobility aids will ensure a dramatic improvement in your quality of life.
We’ve all heard the saying — ‘Prevention Is Better Than Cure’. Unfortunately though, with osteoarthritis, this realization can often come too late. The silver lining? ‘It’s Always Better Late Than Never’. With these methods and our assistive devices, effective pain management is just a hop, skip, and jump away.