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WHAT IS OSTEOARTHRITIS & HOW TO MANAGE IT?…

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis and can cause joints to feel stiff and painful. It is more common in older people but can also affect younger people especially if there has been an injury to a joint. Sometimes OA causes the joints to swell and change shape, especially the finger joints, and sometimes the joints make creaking or cracking noises.

The symptoms of OA can vary a lot. Sometimes there is no pain at all and sometimes the pain can be severe and moving them is difficult. There can be a loss of muscle around the joints and this can make them feel weaker. Almost all joints can develop osteoarthritis but the most common places are the fingers, thumbs, knees and hips as well as the low back.

It may also involve the joints of the neck in older people resulting in stiffness and pain in movement. This can be severe in cases of ankylosing spondylitis.

In addition to pain from movement, a dull ache may result from a muscular effort to support and hold your head still. The pains are often felt in the back of the head or may radiate over your shoulders and down your arms and may be accompanied by tingling in your fingers.

Inside a joint with osteoarthritis, there is loss of cartilage which surrounds the ends of the bones and acts as a shock absorber and the formation of new bone which can cause the joints to look lumpy or become bent.

These symptoms are often troublesome at night and made worse by sleeping with the head in an abnormal position the result of using too many pillows and sleeping on a soft mattress.

Poor posture or sleeping heavily with too many pillows may also give rise to pain and stiffness of the neck.

According to research, they say that everyone will develop some form of osteoarthritis, eventually. If people live long enough, 100% of the entire human population will develop osteoarthritis. One of the biggest risk factors for developing osteoarthritis apart from age is obesity, genetics and gender.

Genetics can play a part in determining whether a person will develop osteoarthritis, but other factors are also at work. It is the process of the breaking down of cartilage in the joints and the inflammatory response to that.

Often no special tests are needed to diagnose osteoarthritis, but sometimes blood tests may be taken to make sure that nothing else is wrong and sometimes X-rays can help confirm the diagnosis. Sometimes MRI scans are used but these are usually not necessary. X-rays of the neck and low back are not useful in diagnosing osteoarthritis because they often show changes that happen normally with age and many people with these changes have no pain.

In hip osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the hip joint thins over time, reducing the protective layer between bones, leading to bone-on-bone rubbing and the formation of new bone spurs. These changes contribute to the symptoms of hip osteoarthritis—which include pain and stiffness in the groin, buttocks, and knee. Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease, with sequential stages. Your treatment will depend on the stage of your hip osteoarthritis.

The severity of osteoarthritis symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, and between different affected joints.

Research has shown that if you suffer from osteoarthritis pain in the knee or hip, then aerobic and stretching exercises in warm water can help to relieve it.

Treatments could include taking supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin. You should also make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D.

Hydrotherapy is another treatment used for OA which is hot water, cold water, and alternating hot and cold water. Hot water is known for stimulating the immune system and is also good for increasing your circulation. Cold water constricts blood vessels and is effective in reducing inflammation.

Using both hot and cold has been found to improve circulation. It was found that water heated between 32 degrees C to 36 degrees C slightly reduces osteoarthritis pain over three months. They say that hydrotherapy changes lives and has been proven to be a highly effective form of natural therapy which works by stimulating the endorphins, which in turn helps you to control pain and alleviate tension.

The buoyancy of the water can make some activity seem easier, while it is actually working muscles very hard. Patients should get used to how their body feels after a session in order to gauge appropriate levels of activity (i.e. not “overdoing” it).

Arthritis Research has an article on how you can access hydrotherapy through the NHS. They say that hydrotherapy sessions are available on the NHS, and most hospitals have access to hydrotherapy pools. Any member of the healthcare team should be able to refer you to an NHS physiotherapist if they think you might benefit from hydrotherapy. In some parts of the UK you can also refer yourself to a physiotherapist, who’ll assess whether hydrotherapy would be suitable for you. Check with your GP or call your local rheumatology department to find out if an NHS physiotherapist in your area will accept self-referrals.

Source: Very Well, WebMD, Versus Arthritis, NHS, Healthline, Arthritis Action

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WHY RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS IS COMMON IN WOMEN?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and damages the joints and, sometimes, other organs. This is unlike the most common arthritis like osteoarthritis which is a specific disease of the cartilage in joints. RA is a chronic and inflammatory disease that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints and other areas of the body.

RA often presents itself in a symmetrical pattern, meaning that it attacks both the left and right sides of the joint involved. If one knee or hand is involved, the other one will be attacked too.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) seems to affect more women than men probably because of the actions of female hormones in their body mechanism. Since women’s role in the reproductive area requires some specific hormone to enhance it to functions properly, and this type of hormone is quite different from the male fertility hormone. These play a major role in the onset of the disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms occur mostly the same way in men and women, but the differences lie in when, how, and why they first appear.

One common feature of RA is that the symptoms come and go. At the time people with this condition might experience flare-ups when their symptoms are worse. They can also experience remission when the disease is less severe.

The genesis of RA is not too clear, but there are noted histories of environmental and genetic risk factors which can be overweight and smoking. Although hormonal factors also contribute to around 75 percent of people who have RA are women.

Some set of people relate old age to RA, but this is not the case. According to the statistics given by Arthritis Foundation, the average onset of RA is between the ages of 30 and 60 years old, and children can also get it.

It is easier to diagnose RA early in women than men. Women can be diagnosed as early as when they are in their mid-30s and then again after the mid-40s. The symptoms of RA can spread around many different parts of the body if not tackled in time.

Why Is Rheumatoid Arthritis More Common In Women?

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a more common phenomenon that occurs in women more than it is in men. There is no clear-cut scientific reason why this is so, but some school of thoughts refers to the nature of women and their role in reproduction.

Out of 27 million Americans with osteoarthritis, about 60 percent of them are women. Age factor plays a role when you talk of arthritis in general. It is common for men to be affected from the age of 55. The number of women of the same age surpasses the number of men. And from 55 upwards, the women with the symptoms of arthritis are on the upward movement. But rheumatoid arthritis which is an autoimmune disease can occur earlier in both sexes.

RA affects the joints mainly, but other parts are also affected.

Before the menstrual flow of a woman, during the flow, and after the flow, there are always hormonal changes in the system. Also, hormonal changes that occurred before and after giving birth can affect a woman’s risk of developing RA. In most women, there is a link between hormonal changes and the onset of RA.

Since hormones are agents of actions in our body. Their balance maintenance is very important for good functionality. Hormones are complex chemical structures in the body, and what triggers their role in RA remains unclear. Depending on the level of hormone balance in each one and the level of body defense tolerance in fighting infections might determine the onset in each individual.

Here is what can influence Rheumatoid Arthritis in women compared to men:

  1. Pregnancy: When a woman becomes pregnant, the body system changes. And as the body system changes, hormones level changes. Women are naturally weaker during pregnancy and more sensitive to touch, or things around them.

The blood volume increases and the packed cell volume decreases. The immunity level might also decrease depending on the prenatal care. And when the immunity level decreases, it might give chance to any opportunistic infection to set in.

  1. Postpartum: Postpartum is a stage women go through after giving birth. Some school of thought believes that some women tend to develop RA in the first year after giving birth. This might be due to the rapid change in hormone levels in the body at this time, especially if postpartum medication, hygiene, and personal care are not adhered to.
  2. Breastfeeding: Full breastfeeding deactivates and inhibits the fertility hormone from being active. If done for up to 1 year may decrease the risk of developing RA. But some rheumatologist experts are divided on this issue.
  3. Menopause: Menopause is a condition when a woman stops to see her monthly flow. Before menopause, hormonal changes occur in women and they complain of different kinds of symptoms. The level of estrogen tends to decline after the age of 40, and women have a higher risk of developing RA after 40. Some experience early or late menopause, but those who experienced theirs early tends to be at more risk of having RA
  4. Endometriosis: Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue grows or is present in areas of the body other than the uterine cavity. Rheumatologist expert relates some female-specific hormones to be involved in stimulating the growth of this lining. Women who have endometriosis are also linked with low immunity and may be more at risk of developing RA.
  5. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is known to affect and changes the hormone levels in the body, thereby causing irregular menstrual periods and fertility problems. It can also increase the risk of developing RA, but the actual link is complicated.
  6. Hormone medication: Fertility hormones are supposed to be balanced. Any case of low or high will affect the fertility of the woman. Some hormones are used to treat various conditions relating to women. For example, anti-estrogen medication can help treat infertility, breast cancer, and osteoporosis after menopause. It can also increase a woman’s risk of developing RA depending on the dosage used.

Conclusion: All the above are likely ways of developing RA which is specific to women. Women are unique, and all these conditions listed above are unique to women. Men also develop RA, but the frequency is high in women. It is not common to see a man with RA at the early age of say 30-40, but for women, it is not so with them.

Article source: https://articlebiz.com – Sony Eguabor – Author

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OSTEOARTHRITIS & BURSITIS ARE TWO PAINFUL CONDITIONS…

As my readers know I have been having a ‘pain-free‘ time after having bilateral sacroiliac injections for my SIJ pain. On week six from having the injections, I started to feel some of the symptoms coming back but only on my right side.

Pain after walking mainly in my hip, pain putting my right shoe on, pain while standing, pain getting out of the car but only on the right side, pain doing housework and worst of all pain in the night when I turn onto my right side ( my favourite sleeping side).

Yesterday I had my follow up appointment and I was keen to tell him how successful it has all been until week six. He was delighted with the results and said if it all came back like it was before then his next procedure would be the Radio Frequency Ablation of my sacroiliac joints rather than a steroid injection.

He then asked me more about the pain I was experiencing and remembered he had ordered an MRI of my right hip the last time I saw him after an examination of me showed that area to be particularly painful.

When he looked at the results of the MRI it showed I had degeneration of the hip (Osteoarthritis) and Bursitis which he explained would definitely be the reason for my pain in that area. He said he could refer me for a steroid injection into my hip, or refer me directly to see a hip consultant.

I declined both offers as I feel I have had lots of steroid injections for my low back over the last 12 months and I am just not ready to deal with more investigations for another problem. I asked if he felt “Aqua Aerobics” would be a good thing for me to try and he could not praise this type of exercise enough for anyone with joint/nerve problems.

I have felt a bit weary this morning knowing I have yet another painful condition to deal with but I’m just going to get back onto my pain medication like before(which I had got right down to very little) and remind myself that my problems are not life-threatening I just need to make a few life-changing things to help with the pain.

My friend who is a nurse explained to me that anything ending in ‘itis’ means inflammation so she suggested taking some anti-inflammatories as well. I will have a chat with my GP first though.

Osteoporosis is the most common type of arthritis, is a degenerative joint disease. It results from wear and tears in the joints. In hip osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the hip joint thins over time, reducing the protective layer between bones, leading to bone-on-bone rubbing and the formation of new bone spurs. These changes contribute to the symptoms of hip osteoarthritis—which include pain and stiffness in the groin, buttocks, and knee.

Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease, with sequential stages. Your treatment will depend on the stage of your hip osteoarthritis.

The symptoms start with dull, aching pain in the groin, outer thigh, knee, or buttocks. Pain that is worse in the morning or after sitting or resting for a while, but lessens with activity. Increased pain and stiffness with vigorous activity. Pain in the joint is severe enough to cause a limp or make walking difficult. Any pain, swelling, or tenderness in the hip joint.

The causes of osteoarthritis of the hip are not known. Factors that may contribute include joint injury, increasing age, and being overweight.

Treatments could include taking supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin. You should also make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D. ( I am already on a supplement for this after being diagnosed with Osteopenia a couple of years ago).

Walking, dancing, aqua aerobics are the types of exercise that work directly on the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine to slow mineral loss which is important if you have Osteoporosis. The main goal of treating osteoarthritis of the hip is to improve the person’s mobility (ability to get around) and lifestyle. I am really pleased I got down to the correct BMI during the last lockdown as it is obvious being overweight can play a big part in this condition.

Bursitis (bur-sigh-tus) is a condition that makes the area around a joint or bone painful, red and swollen. It can affect both adults and children.

It commonly affects the feetshoulderselbowsknees and hips. However, you can get it in or around any joint, and it can stop you from being able to move that part of your body properly.

Symptoms include:

  • red or swollen area
  • hot and sore
  • painful – usually with a dull, aching pain
  • sensitive and painful if you try to press on or move it.

Bursitis is caused by inflammation in a thin pocket of jelly-like fluid that sits between your bones and tendons. When it’s working properly, this fluid protects your joints and bones from knocks, falls, bumps and injuries.

This fluid cushion is called a bursa (bur-sa), or bursae (bur-sigh) if more than one is involved.

When your bursae are working normally, they act as lubricants for your bones and the soft tissue that supports them. This allows them to slide easily over one another.

Bursae also help to reduce friction. An example of this would be your shoe rubbing your foot. This creates friction, which is absorbed by the bursae instead of your bones or tendons.

Your body can also create a new bursa if it thinks a certain joint or limb needs added protection from friction. For example, if your shoe keeps rubbing the same area, or you regularly lean on the same elbow, your body will create added cushioning there. This will either be with an extra bursa or by increasing the fluid in the bursae that are already there.

Versus Arthritis suggest that if lying down is uncomfortable, then try to avoid sleeping on the side that hurts. A pillow placed behind your back can stop you from rolling onto the painful side and should help you sleep better.

The NHS say the best way to treat bursitis yourself is to help bring down swelling and pain and the best way to do that is to –

  • rest – try not to move the joint too much and avoid activities that put pressure on it
  • use ice – gently hold an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas) wrapped in a tea towel on the area for around 10 minutes at a time and repeat every few hours during the day
  • take painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, to ease any pain

It may also help to put extra cushions around the affected joint while you sleep, to help protect and support it.

Other treatments are –

  • steroid injection may be given into the affected joint to reduce the swelling – this will not be done if bursitis is caused by an infection
  • if bursitis is severe or keeps coming back, the inflamed bursa may need to be surgically drained or even removed (but this is rare)

Source: Very Well, WebMD, Versus Arthritis, NHS, BPB Health Disclaimer, Healthline