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Osteoarthritis

lumbar arthritisFor decades, osteoarthritis has been considered a part of aging. But not anymore. Recent research points out that older people don’t have to suffer from osteoarthritic pain. And, surprisingly, people much younger than 65 can develop osteoarthritis.

What Is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA), or degenerative joint disease, affects more than 20 million Americans and is more common in women than in men. The disease affects the cartilage—slippery tissue on the ends of bones that meet in a joint. Normally, cartilage helps bones glide over one another. In an OA patient, however, the cartilage is broken down and eventually wears away. As a result, instead of gliding, bones rub against each other, causing pain, swelling, and loss of motion. Although the majority of patients with OA are 65 and older, recent research shows that osteoarthritis is not a by-product of aging. Family history of OA, being overweight, lack of exercise, and prior joint injuries are suggested as OA risk factors.

How Is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?

OA is diagnosed through a combination of clinical history, patient examination, and x-rays. Other tests, such as drawing fluid from the joint, are sometimes used.

The signs of OA include:

• Steady or intermittent joint pain

• Joint stiffness after sitting, sleeping, or otherwisenot moving for a long time

• Swelling or tenderness in the joints

• A crunching feeling or the sound of bones rubbing against each other.

If you experience any of these signs, consult Spine Care of Tidewater. While the diagnosis is relatively easy to make, it is often harder to establish whether or not OA causes the patient’s symptoms. That’s why the treating doctor needs to not only make the diagnosis, but also rule out other disorders and conditions that can make the symptoms worse. Timely diagnosis and treatment can help manage pain, improve function, and slow the degeneration.

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