Osteoarthritis is one of the common joint problems among elderly people. It affects the majority of people even before old age and becomes degenerative in origin. Whenever the protective cartilage of the joint gets damaged or affected, osteoarthritis occurs. It can affect any joint in the body, for example: Hands, Knees, Hip or Spine. For most people, because of the severe joint pain and stiffness even the activities of daily living become difficult.
Always the symptoms develop in a slow fashion but worsen in a longer time.
- Pain: During mobility / movement
- Tenderness: Even with light pressure tenderness may be present
- Stiffness: Common in the morning time
- Loss of Flexibility: Complete range of motion is affected
- Grating sensation: Present during mobility
- Bone Spurs:Bone bits which are like hard lumps will be formed around the affected joint
Diagnosis / Investigations :
The following are the diagnostic tool for osteoarthritis.
- History collection : Detailed medical/ social history is obtained and also the subjective and the objective symptoms are collected from the patient and the attenders
- Physical examination : Physician examines the affected joint for checking the tenderness, any swelling, redness and the range of motion
- Imaging test : Radiological test like X-ray and MRI of the affected area is commonly taken
- Laboratory tests :
- Blood investigations like uric acid, Rheumatoid factors are checked other than the common investigations depending on the condition of the patient
- Joint fluid analysis is also done depending on the severity
The medications are prescribed by the doctors depending on the condition and the severity of the illness. All the medications should be consumed as per the physician’s advice only.
- Acetaminophen is the common drug which helps for the pain management
- NSAID drugs are also prescribed by the physician but it should be consumed as per the physician’s order only.
Physical therapy: physical exercises will help the patient for the pain reduction by strengthening the muscles, increase the range of motion.
Occupational therapy: Braces or shoe inserts are commonly used
Cortisone shot: Corticosteroid medication may be helpful for the pain reduction
Lubrication injection: Most common form injection is hyaluronic acid which provides the cushion for the knee
Realigning bones: osteotomy is the most common procedure performed for the patient which helps to relieve the pain from the affected portion
Joint replacements: Damaged joint surfaces are replaced with plastic/metal parts. Hip or knee replacements are the common procedures.
- Regular exercise
- Lose weight
- Heat or cold applications to manage pain
- Application of pain creams or gels
- Assistive devices
- Glucosamine / chondroitin
- Avocado-Soyabean unsaponifiables
- Tai chi and Yoga
Lifestyle changes and some of the treatment modalities will help for the pain reduction as well as disability. Patient’s ability to cope towards the pain and disability will determine the impact in their day to day life.