Arthritis of the joints affects the lives of millions of people and living with joint pain can decrease the quality of your day-to-day life. According to the Arthritis Foundation, about 27 million people in the United States have osteoarthritis, which is the most common of the three types of arthritis.
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition of the joints, which is also known as “wear and tear” arthritis. Healthy joints move easily without pain because of smooth, firm tissue called cartilage, which covers your joints. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage breaks down and becomes frayed, rough or even worn away—often causing pain, stiffness and swelling. It can affect any joint in the body, but it’s most often found in the knee or hip.
What are some signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis?
Symptoms range from mild irritation to debilitating pain. Pain is often worse in the morning and may improve during the day. Changes in weather may affect your pain level. Osteoarthritis can cause swelling, stiffness or loss of motion, buckling and weakness. Rough cartilage may also cause sticking, popping or catching of the joint.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have joint pain that’s not responding to over-the-counter pain relievers or lasts more than a few days, you should contact your doctor. He or she can properly diagnose osteoarthritis or determine if there’s a different cause of your joint pain.
What can I do to ease everyday pain?
Try resting and using heat for pain or ice for swelling. Stretching or light exercise can be helpful. Over-the-counter pain medications such as anti-inflammatories or acetaminophen (Tylenol) help many arthritis sufferers.
For more information about treating arthritis and joint pain, look for our Joint Health seminars.