Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis in the US. It affects approximately 10% of men and 18% of women over the age of 60. The most common joints affected by OA include the hands, knees, feet and hips. OA is also called degenerative joint disease (DJD) and is considered a degenerative arthritis caused from overuse and damage to the joint over time.
There are many different factors that can increase the risk of osteoarthritis, including weight gain, trauma’s, certain occupations, bone density and physical activity. OA primarily affects the weightbearing joints. These are joints such as the hip and knee, and increased weight and cause additional wear and tear on these joints. Jobs that cause heavy joint loading and repetitive damage over time such as construction, agriculture, fishing, mining and other weightbearing occupations can increase the risk of developing OA over time. Vigorous exercise and injury over time may also increase the risk of OA in certain joints.
Medications for Osteoarthritis
There are currently no medications other than ibuprofen or Tylenol that are used to treat OA. These medications are used only for pain management, and caution should be used with long term usage to prevent adverse side effects such as increased risk of MI, stroke or kidney and liver damage.
Alternative Treatments for Osteoarthritis
There are many alternative therapies that are excellent for treating OA. Many of these treatments include diet and lifestyle changes that can help reduce weight bearing on the joint as well and help strengthen the area to prevent further damage.
Exercise is probably the most reliable therapy for prevention and treatment of OA. Low load exercises such as yoga and tai chi can help to strengthen the muscles and ligaments around the joint space and improve motility which can help reduce pain and instability. Physical medicine therapies such as cold laser and kineseotaping also be very beneficial to strengthen the joint and prevent further injury.
Weight loss should also be a focus if weightbearing joints such as the knee or hip are involved. Implementing dietary changes that can help a person lose weight and reduce inflammation are ideal. These can be tailored to an individual’s own lifestyle to help improve compliance.
Some supplementation can also be beneficial for joint support such as glucosamine, SAMe, or hyaluronic acid. Essential fatty acids found in fish oils can also help lubricate the joint space and reduce inflammation, while other hers like Gotu Kola can help to strengthen the connective tissues.
The best treatments for OA though include individualized plans for each person to identify specific triggers that could be contributing to further damage of the joint. If you want to learn more about how you can identify your own triggers for OA, contact our office today to schedule a free introductory consult with one of our physicians.