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What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as “wear and tear” arthritis, is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs most frequently in the hands, hips and knees.

What causes OA?

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones in your joints gradually deteriorates. Over time, it can lead to bone on bone formation.

What are the risk factors of OA?

Risk factors include older age, being female, obesity, genetics and repeated stress on joints.

Osteoarthritis of the spine

In osteoarthritis of the spine, disks narrow and bone spurs form.

What are the signs and symptoms of OA?

Pain Affected joints might hurt during or after movement

Stiffness Joint stiffness might be most noticeable after being inactive

Tenderness Your joint might feel tender when you apply light pressure to it

Loss of flexibility You might not be able to move your joint through its full range of motion

Grating Sensation You might feel a grating sensation when you use the joint, and you might hear popping or cracking

Bone spurs These extra bits of bone can form around the affected joint

How is osteoarthritis treated?

  • Topical pain medicines and oral analgesics, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)
  • Intermittent hot and cold packs
  • Supportive devices such as braces, orthotics, shoe inserts, cane or walker
  • Intra-articular injection therapies (steroid, hyaluronic acid “gel”)

Surgery may be helpful to relieve pain and restore function when other medical treatments are ineffective or have been exhausted, especially with advanced OA.

Non-pharmacological management of OA

  • Lifestyle changes: Exercise to maintain ideal body weight
  • Mind-body: Cognitive behavioral therapy, self-hypnosis, journaling and meditation/mindfulness based stress reduction
  • Acupuncture, manipulative therapies

Dietary supplement

  • Glucosamine, 1,500 mg daily in 3 divided dose
  • Chondroitin Sulfate, 1,000-1,200 mg daily single or divided doses
  • S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine (SAMe), 200 m; may take up to 1,600 mg
  • Methyl sulfonyl Methane (MSM), 500-1,000 mg two to three times daily
  • Herbal anti-Inflammatories: Phytodolor, Stinging Nettle, Turmeric, Willow Bar

Disclaimer: These dietary and herbal supplements may interact with your medications or may be contraindicated with certain health issues. Please talk to your doctor before you start them.

Source: cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/osteoarthritis.htm