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A complete guide to osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK, it causes pain and stiffness in the joints. So, what are the symptoms and causes of osteoarthritis and how can you treat it? Throughout day-to-day life your joint will be exposed to a constant level of damage, due to it being a low level usually the body will repair the damage itself and you will not experience any feeling of pain. However, if you suffer from osteoarthritis the protective cartilage on the end of your bones will break down resulting in pain, swelling and stiffness. There is no know exact cause, but there are several things which could increase your chances of developing osteoarthritis, such as:

  • Overusing your joint and not allowing sufficient rest time after an injury.
  • Other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout could leave your joint more susceptible to suffer from osteoarthritis.
  • The older you get the more likely you are to develop osteoarthritis.
  • Being obese will place excess strain on your joint, weakening them in the process.
  • Osteoarthritis has been found to affect women more than men.

If you think you may be suffering from osteoarthritis, then the main symptoms to keep an eye out for are joint pain and stiffness. Some other symptoms people suffer with include swelling, tenderness or a grating sound when moving the joint. The severity of these symptoms will not only differ in each case but also between different affected joints. The time people suffer may also change as some people may suffer mile and infrequent symptoms compared to others who may suffer from these symptoms more continuously. Most joints can be affected by osteoarthritis, but it is more commonly seen to affect the knees, hips and smaller joints that make up the hand. If you are suffering from any symptoms you believe to be osteoarthritis then we recommend seeing a medical professional, such as your GP, who can diagnose the issue. If you are diagnosed with osteoarthritis sadly there is no cure for this long-term condition, but it may not get worse over time and several methods can help reduce the severity of your symptoms. If you suffer from mild symptoms steps such as exercise, losing weight if necessary and wearing suitable footwear can help reduce the severity of your symptoms. Additionally, several people will wear a special device, such as a knee brace, to help reduce the strain being placed on your joints during everyday activities. In cases where the patient suffers from severe symptoms, they may be required to use medication, such as painkiller, or a structured exercise plan with a physiotherapist.