The Myth of Aging and Osteoarthritis
It is true that as people get older, they are more likely to get osteoarthritis. However it but it is not just a natural part of aging.
To prevent the bones from rubbing when you move the joints, the ends are lined with cartilage. The cartilage is a natural cushioning layer that prevents the bones from rubbing when you flex the joint.
As people age, the cartilage lining the joints do become thinner and joint space might get narrower. As this happens, the bones begin to rub in different areas and the flexing of the joints will create varying levels of pain.
Osteoarthritis was once thought to be due exclusively to "wear and tear" of the joints. However, research have shown that there are other factors also involved such as excessive use of the joints, infection, rheumatoid arthritis, gout and metabolism imbalance.
Usually, the symptoms you notice starts to gradually appear. Pain is the first and it appears when you use the affected joint. Other symptoms that may appear include morning stiffness and restricted range of motion. As the condition progressive, it will also lead to joint deformity.
The joints that are commonly affected are:
neck / spine
finger joints and feet (less common)
The joints that carry the body's weight, known as the weight-bearing joints, (for example, the knee) are likely to show more pain and stiffness.
If the joints are still, you can expect to get relief pain and mobility issues after 30 minutes to 1 hour when you begin flex the joints.
At the beginning stages of this condition, there is none or very little inflammatory and there will be no evidence of swelling. However, as the condition gets worse, the joint structure actually starts to change and swelling becomes more prominent. At this stage, you can expect to experience greater pain for longer intervals and much more stiffness and less flexible.
Eventually, the joint begins to deform and you loose significant flexibility. At this stage, the damage is permanent. Due to the excessive pain, you may be restricted to walking for short distances and requiring frequent rests or the use of walkers and electric scooters.
Only joint replacement surgery will be able to give you back mobility and to take away most of the pain.
If you suffer from spinal osteoarthritis, you will experience back pain or neck pain. As this condition gets worse, the bones may put pressure on nerves and cause numbness and pain to travel down the legs or arms.
Your family doctor can perform a physical exam, take your history and get an X-ray of the affected joint. With a detailed exam, your doctor will rule out other health conditions and make an accurate diagnosis.
This way, you be sure to get the proper treatment. However, the x-ray image may not give you the full picture because it only shows the bone and not the health of the cartilage.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
While MRI will show the health of the cartilage (which an X-ray image will not), this is seldom done. The cost is far too high to justify its use for such a condition except in the worse cases.
A surgeon can make a small incision into the knee joint, insert a tube attached to a camera at the end and physically see inside the joint to evaluate the damage.
There are no blood test for osteoarthritis. However, many physicians will do a blood test to make sure that the osteoarthritis symptoms are not due to some other ailments.
This is such a common question that we have put together a comprehensive list of all natural remedies. Find out what you can take for your arthritis pain and get proper dosing information as well.