Arthritis is a disease that many people associated with getting older. However, while it is more common in people of ages 55 and older, arthritis can affect anyone of any age. There are over 200 types of arthritis, and it is one of the most common forms of physical disability. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis.
What Is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is characterized by stiffness in the joints, making it difficult and often painful to move or use the joint. Osteoarthritis is more common in women and is predominantly found in those aged 55 and older. However, it is possible to develop osteoarthritis before the age of 55.
Osteoarthritis is caused by damage to the body. In most cases when the body is hurt it is able to repair itself, but sometimes it is unable to restore an injury and it is from this damage that osteoarthritis develops. Osteoarthritis can cause bones to grow thicker and wider at the end of joints, and also cause fluid to build up in joints, making it more difficult to move. While the causes of osteoarthritis vary from person to person, common causes include sporting injuries and obesity. Osteoarthritis is also thought to have a genetic link.
The most common symptom of osteoarthritis is pain. Pain is often what first alerts people to the fact that they have osteoarthritis, particularly when carrying out load-bearing movements. Walking, for example, can be especially painful for those with osteoarthritis in their knee or hip, and this can be very limited for their movement. Likewise, stiffness is another prominent symptom, especially when waking up in the morning although the feeling of stiffness can continue throughout the day. Other symptoms of osteoarthritis include a more limited range of movements from your joints and joints becoming larger than usual. For example, if you have developed osteoarthritis in your fingers, your fingers can appear to bend sidewise or bumps can appear at the joints. Finally, it is also common to experience the feeling that your joints are grating against one another when moving.
If you think that you have any symptoms of osteoarthritis it is important to discuss these with your doctor. While there is no cure for arthritis, there are treatments that you will be offered in order to help you feel more comfortable and to improve your mobility. There are also measures that you can take yourself to improve your condition, including weight-loss or wearing certain shoes support your feet. You may also be offered surgery if your doctor feels that it is important to remove the joint affected by arthritis.