Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that consists of a "wear" of articular cartilage, which can be progressive. The disease can affect any joint, but the most frequent are those of the hands, knees, hip and spine. Cartilage, a firm and elastic tissue, covers the ends of the bones in a joint. Its properties and those of the liquid that covers it (synovial fluid) allow to "cushion and lubricate".
Unlike other forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis only affects the joints and not to internal organs like the heart, lung, kidney.
Contrary to what many people think, osteoarthritis is not an exclusive disease of old age; Anyone can have it, and increases its frequency with age, being more common in women and in genetically predisposed people. The Spanish Society of Rheumatology has developed a catalog of 10 recommendations for patients, so that patients can better understand their disease and improve their quality of life:
Maintain a correct body weight
Obesity is one of the causes of the disease, and also makes it progress more quickly. If you are obese or overweight, start a diet program that will make you lose weight; Your doctor can help you in this regard. No special diets are required, nor are there completely prohibited foods in this disease. A low calorie diet is enough
Hot and cold
In general, heat is most beneficial in osteoarthritis. It can be applied at home, with the electric mat or hot water bottle placed over the painful joint. They relieve pain and relax the muscles. Occasionally, the arthroscopic joint may have an intense inflammatory outbreak and, on such occasions, it may be useful to apply local cold through ice packs or cold baths.
There are many types of medications that can be beneficial in this disease. There are analgesics, anti-inflammatories, gels and creams, local infiltrations and drugs that can prevent the progression of osteoarthritis. However, it must be your doctor or rheumatologist who decides, at each moment of evolution, which is right for you. Do not self-medicate. Alternative therapies - such as acupuncture, osteopathy, herbs, etc. - have not proved scientifically effective, but if you want to use them, consult your doctor first to avoid problems.
Sleep in a flat bed. Avoid sitting on sagging chairs or sofas, and use straight-backed chairs where your hips and knees hold a natural position and your feet are in contact with the floor.
Exercise protects the joint and increases the strength of our muscles. To reduce mobility to the maximum, it makes the arthrosic person become dependent on others. It is good to walk, bike and practice swimming, but contact sports or physical overload are less advisable. There are also specific exercises for each joint that is affected by the disease; Ask your doctor or rheumatologist, and do them daily.
It is not contradictory with the previous point. Osteoarthritis is a disease that occurs with intermittent periods of pain, and during the phases with greater pain relative rest is beneficial. It is also good to interpose small periods of rest during activities of daily living.
Avoid overloading joints
Do not take excessive weights, try not to walk on uneven terrain and not stand unduly without rest. Use a shopping cart. If you have osteoarthritis of the knee or hip, the use of a walking stick reduces the overload of these joints
If you have lumbar, hip or knee osteoarthritis, you should wear thick-soled footwear that absorbs the force of the foot's impact on the floor when walking. This can also be achieved with silicone insoles or heel that are placed in the shoe. Do not wear shoes with an excessive heel. It is preferable to use flat shoe or with a slight heel.
The thermal baths apply mineral-medicinal waters, usually thermal, for the treatment of osteoarthritis. With this they manage to improve the pain and relax the contractured muscles. The so-called SPA centers (health by water) perform aesthetic and relaxation treatments through the use of water which, however, does not have mineral-medicinal characteristics such as spas. Both forms may be helpful in osteoarthritis.
Maintain a Positive Attitude
Osteoarthritis, despite everything, allows a complete personal and family life, with very few limitations. In the most advanced and worse cases, there are surgical treatments that can solve the problem. Osteoarthritis "per se" does not affect life and progress in its research and treatment is continuous.
This pathology may lead to some functional disability in the patient, although at times it could also lead to a degree of disability, which prevents the patient from carrying out his daily activities.
To know better the rheumatic diseases, allows to go to the specialist to have a timely diagnosis and in time.
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Elizabeth Rivera C.