Arthritis is a common disease affecting an estimated 58.5 million Americans annually, and osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. This degenerative disease affects an astonishing 32.5 million American adults each year, and it can cause serious problems if it is not diagnosed and treated quickly. Today, our experts at RightPath Pain & Spine Centers in Davenport, FL are taking a closer look at this disease, including how soon it can be diagnosed.
Is It Possible to Detect Osteoarthritis Early?
Yes, it is possible for osteoarthritis to be detected early. In the past, this disease could only be diagnosed when it progressed to the point of causing pain and bone damage. Today, magnetic resonance imaging can be performed to detect the disease before bone damage occurs.
What Are the Symptoms of This Disease?
Pain is one of the most common symptoms of this disease. In the early stages of the disease, your affected joints may only hurt after exercise. However, as the disease progresses, joint pain during movement is not uncommon. Another very common symptom of this condition is joint stiffness after a long period of inactivity, such as sleeping for several hours or sitting at work. Crepitus is another extremely common symptom.
Typically, people with crepitus hear a grinding, popping, clicking, or cracking noise when they move a stiff joint. However, it is also possible for people with crepitus to feel uncomfortable sensations, like grating, when moving a stiff joint. The longer you are inactive before moving a joint, the worse your crepitus symptoms will likely be. Furthermore, it is extremely common for people with osteoarthritis to experience tender soft tissues around the affected joint.
What Can I Do to Improve My Symptoms?
To manage your condition without surgery, you need to do your best to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. For example, you should sleep for no fewer than seven hours nightly, and you should stay hydrated. Another highly effective step you can take to manage your condition is to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if you are not at a healthy weight.
You can also improve your symptoms by getting stem cell therapy. Mesenchymal stem cells have been shown to release anti-inflammatory factors that can benefit you in many ways. For example, you can expect pain and swelling relief after receiving this therapy. You can also expect an improvement in your range of motion.
What Are the Risk Factors for This Condition?
While anyone can develop osteoarthritis, there are several factors that significantly increase the likelihood that you will develop this disease. For example, you are much more likely to develop this disease if you have an immediate relative, like a parent or sibling, with the condition because your genes can play a role in its development. As another example, women are far more likely to develop this disease, and the risk of developing it increases with age.
Obesity is another significant risk factor for the development of this disease. The more extra weight you carry, the more likely it is that you are going to experience significant wear and tear in your weight-bearing joints, like your knees and hips. Furthermore, adipose tissue causes damaging inflammation around and in your joints due to the proteins it produces. Other risk factors for developing this disease include:
- Repeated joint stress
- Malformed joints
- Defective cartilage
- Sports injuries affecting joints
- Motor vehicle accidents affecting joints
What Joints Can Be Affected By This Disease?
This disease can affect any joint, but it is extremely common in the carpometacarpal thumb joint, distal interphalangeal finger joints, and metacarpophalangeal hand joints. Additionally, you should not be surprised if this disease affects your wrists as you age if you are a painter or have another job that requires a lot of wrist movements. Other joints that are often affected by this condition include the:
- Cervical spine
- Lumbar spine
What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Developing This Disease?
One of the most effective steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing this degenerative disease is to lose weight if you suffer from obesity or are overweight. The less adipose tissue you have, the less damaging proteins your body produces. Additionally, significantly less stress is placed on the joints in your lower body when you walk and run when you weigh less.
Besides maintaining a healthy weight, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis by staying physically active. Exercising regularly strengthens the muscles around your joints and improves the flexibility of your joints. Ideally, you should try to get 30 minutes of low-impact cardio, like walking, cycling, or swimming, most days.
Can Lifting Weights Benefit Me?
Lifting weights can also strengthen the muscles around your joints. However, it is a good idea to lift light weights and improve muscle strength with high-repetition sets rather than completing sets of few repetitions and high weights. Additionally, it is crucial that you maintain proper posture and use good form when lifting weights. You may even want to enlist the help of a personal trainer for help with your technique if you are starting a new lifting routine.
What Complications Can Arise If Osteoarthritis Isn’t Treated?
This degenerative disease can cause many complications if it is left untreated, including chronic joint pain and stiffness so severe that daily tasks become extremely difficult to complete. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for people who suffer from this condition to develop depression and wake up several times throughout the night due to their chronic pain.
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Early osteoarthritis is possible. Traditionally, a diagnosis was only possible after visible bone damage and other symptoms were present. However, MRI images can now be used to detect the disease before pain and other serious symptoms occur. To learn more about this disease, including how it can be treated, contact us today at RightPath Pain & Spine Centers in Davenport, FL to schedule a consultation.