Among the large number of diseases of the musculoskeletal system, osteoarthritis (OA) takes the leading place.
This disease occurs in all countries of the world, on all continents. The number of patients with OA increases with age. The development of the disease leads to a deterioration in the quality of life of patients, limits their physical capabilities, and often social functions, is the cause of disability.
What is osteoarthritis? OA is a chronic progressive disease of the joints and the spine, characterized by the destruction of the articular cartilage and adjacent bone, synovial membrane, ligaments, capsule and periarticular muscles, accompanied by pain, impairment or limitation of the functional activity of the joints, inflammation of the synovial membrane – synovitis.
Who is affected by OA? Risk factors:
• elderly age
• female sex (women get sick 2 times more often than men)
• congenital malformations of bones and joints (congenital dislocation of the hip, flat feet, excessive range of motion in the joints – hypermobility, etc.)
• joint surgery
• overweight (doubles the risk)
• professional activity (work related to stereotypical movements, constant load on the same joints or articular groups – driver, hairdresser, builder)
• professional sports (football, athletics and weightlifting)
• joint injuries.
If a person has damage to several joints at the same time, we are talking about polyosteoarthritis.
Symptoms characteristic of OA:
• joint pain that occurs during and after exercise,
• local morning stiffness (less than 30 minutes)
• crunch (crepitus) when moving in the joint,
• limitation of range of motion,
• change in the shape of the joint,
• pain on palpation in the joint area,
• “clicking” or “wedging” in the joint,
• feeling of tension in the joint,
• the appearance of dense thickenings along the edge of the joint.
A few simple guidelines:
• not stand when it is possible to sit (even when doing work),
• do not lift or carry excessive weights,
• distribute the load evenly on both hands,
• not work while kneeling,
• maintain normal body weight in terms of body mass index
• select furniture in such a way that the height of chairs and a sofa is sufficient, does not disturb the blood circulation of the hip joints in the sitting position and does not cause difficulties when standing up.
Prevention of arthrosis:
• adequate physical activity to keep muscles in working order,
• rational nutrition and adherence to the drinking regime,
• normalization of weight,
• quitting bad habits (especially smoking)
• correction in childhood of flat feet, X and O-shaped deformities of the extremities, posture disorders.
Maintaining muscles in good working order is an important point in the prevention of arthrosis. It is recommended to go swimming at least 2 times a week, at home – warm mineral baths. Swimming helps not only to strengthen the muscles at an early stage, but also prevents further progression of the disease (stabilizes), in the later stages it has the strongest effect of relieving muscle spasm. Thus, it relieves pain.
The joint must move constantly to strengthen the muscle frame, but also because the cartilage feeds during movement. It is important to exercise regularly.
Correction of existing violations is also important – wearing insoles, special shoes, unloading with a cane, wearing a patella.
Treatment is mainly symptomatic, aimed at reducing pain and inflammation in the joints, reducing movement restrictions and, if possible, slowing the progression of the disease.
It is difficult to stop arthrosis, but if treatment is started early, the results are good.
The patient must understand that he needs to live and work with sore joints, and to reckon with the disease.