Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent type of arthritis. It is a degenerative joint disease characterized by deteriorating joint cartilage. Osteoarthritis typically occurs with aging and is a chronic disease. It affects about 27 million people in the United States. When cartilage begins to wear down, there is less cushion in between the bones. This leads to persistent pain. If left unaddressed, it could eventually affect the joint’s range of motion. In extreme cases, it can lead to painful bone spurs that occur in the joint space.

Risk factors and symptoms for Osteoarthritis

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of osteoarthritis begins to rapidly increase beginning at age 45. Additional risk factors include being overweight, sustaining a joint injury or undergoing physical stress. For many with the condition, the ability to go about regular activities is impacted. Common symptoms of osteoarthritis include joints that feel stiff or sore (especially after being at rest for an extended period), and joint pain that intensifies following physical activity.  

Treatment

When it comes to treatment, prevention is thought to be key. However, if pain has already settled in, pain relievers may be helpful. For some, physical or occupational therapy can also be effective. In severe cases, joint replacement surgery may be an option. According to a 2014 study out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, women who regularly drink fat-free or low-fat milk might actually delay the progression of osteoarthritis of the knee. The study found that milk intake was linked to decreased joint space width in the knee. The most beneficial effects were observed in women who drank more than seven 8-ounce glasses per week. Osteoarthritis can affect different parts of the body. Common sites include the knees, neck, fingers, ankles and toes. According to the Arthritis Foundation, maintaining a healthy weight, nutritious diet and low-stress lifestyle can improve symptoms.b

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