What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and affects millions of people all over the world. It’s a condition that causes stiff and painful joints, from mild discomfort to debilitating pain that can impact everyday life.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions your joints degrades and wears out over time. In a healthy joint, the cartilage forms a hard, smooth surface for the bones to move freely in multiple directions (depending on the type of joint). As osteoarthritis advances, it causes this barrier to become thinner until bone is rubbing on bone.

This can lead to inflammation of the joints and connective tissues, causing the area to become red and swollen, as well as causing pain and reduced mobility.

It can occur in almost any joint in the body.

Osteoarthritis symptoms

The symptoms of osteoarthritis usually develop slowly over a long time, getting worse and more noticeable as the condition advances. The severity of symptoms can be very different between different people, with some people only experiencing relatively mild pain or joint trouble, while it may be more intense for others.

Pain – the joint or joints where the arthritis is present will become painful when you move

Stiffness – joints will become difficult to move

Grating noise – when you move the joint you can hear a grinding or crackling sound

Redness and swelling – the soft tissues of the affected joints can become inflamed

If you experience any of these symptoms and they don’t go away, you should make an appointment to see your doctor so they can determine if its osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis causes

There’s no exact cause known for osteoarthritis, but age is the biggest factor in its development. Your joints are exposed to movement and wear and tear every day, but any damage Is repaired by your body. This ability to repair the damage seems to diminish as we age.

While we don’t know of the exact cause, there are risk factors that can increase the chances of developing osteoarthritis

Risk factors

Injuries – if you’ve previously injured a joint and not given it the time to heal

Family history – this can increase your risk, but it’s not known why

Other arthritis – if a joint is already affected by existing conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout Obesity – excessive weight can put more strain on joints such as knees and hips

Osteoarthritis treatment

While there’s no direct treatment for osteoarthritis, there are things you can do to manage the condition, and even improve it with milder cases. In many cases, it’s possible to stop the condition from progressing and getting worse. Painkillers can also help with decreasing discomfort when doing everyday activities, or even adding supplements to your diet such as fish oil.

If you only have a mild case of osteoarthritis, lifestyle changes could help to manage or improve symptoms, such as:

  • losing weight
  • increasing exercise
  • wearing certain supportive clothes or shoes
  • physical or occupational therapy

In more severe cases, surgery can sometimes be an option to repair or strengthen a joint, such as replacing it with an artificial one, or temporarily relieve severe pain with an injection such as cortisone.

Common examples of this would be a hip replacement or a knee replacement, which can repair or replace the arthritic joints to reduce pain and improve mobility.

If you’re experiencing problems with arthritis and joint pain, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us  to make an appointment to speak to your doctor for advice on your options.

Get motivated, get active, get results

The New Year is traditionally a time for new beginnings. And whilst getting active to improve health and fitness levels is often at the top of many people’s wish list for the year ahead, we understand that putting that goal into action can be easier said than done.

So read on for some tips and advice on how to get motivated, get active, and get results. Trust us, you’ll be glad you powered through when the health benefits of regular exercise start to become apparent!

There’s always an excuse

Taking that first step towards a healthier lifestyle is always the hardest part, and there is often a plethora of excuses to give up before you’ve even started:

  • “I won’t enjoy it”
  • “I don’t have time for it”
  • “I’m too tired”
  • “It’s too difficult”
  • “It’s too expensive”
  • “I’m too old”
  • “I’m too embarrassed”

So, first things first – change your mindset. Think about WHY you want to start exercising and focus on the positive changes that will bring to your life.

Start slowly

If you’re starting exercise for the first time, or after a long break, it’s important not to push yourself too far. Set yourself small, manageable, realistic goals – such as a brisk walk around the block, building up to a longer walk, then a jog. And make sure you warm up and cool down with gentle muscle stretches to reduce the risk of muscle strain and injury.

Create a routine

Whether you prefer to exercise first thing in the morning, during a lunch break, or after work – find a time that suits you and stick to it. Finding motivation to get active is easier when it becomes a natural part of your regular routine.

Buddy up

For an extra motivational boost, consider exercising with a friend. You’ll be less likely to miss a planned session to avoid letting down a friend, plus they’ll be there to spur you on if you find the exercise particularly tough.

Keep it interesting

It can take a while to find an exercise that you enjoy, but keep challenging yourself with new forms of exercise, workout routines, and jogging routes for example, to maintain your interest.

Congratulate yourself

Try to view exercise as a form of self-care, rather than a punishment! Embrace the endorphin rush after each session and feel good about what you’re achieving.

Start seeing the benefits

Once you’ve got a regular routine, it’s just a matter of time before the benefits start to become obvious. Aside from the changes to physical appearance such as weight loss and more toned muscles, you may also start to notice a boost to your mental health, self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy levels.

There will also be a range of positive changes happening internally that you might not be aware of. For example, long-term, people who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Some cancers
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Clinical depression

If you would like further help or advice about making positive, healthy lifestyle changes, speak to your GP.