Tag Archives: osteoarthritis

Knowing Your Arthritis


Before we go any further, we must first distinguish the differences between these two types of Arthritis:

1) Osteoarthritis?

2) Rheumatoid Arthritis?

I hope the very brief summary below should be enough to take us through in understanding them!

What is Osteoarthritis?

If osteoarthritis had been with us from the beginning of time,one should wonder why in today’s advances in Medical technologies we still can not find the cure?
While the exact cause of OA is unknown, joint damage can be due to repetitive movement (also known as “wear and tear”). It can also begin as the result of an injury. Either way, with OA there’s erosion of the cartilage, the part of the joint that covers the ends of the bones.

Some factors that may increase your risk of developing OA:
Age
Gender
Obesity
Joint Alignment
Heredity
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks normal joint tissues, causing inflammation of the joint lining.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

If you experience some of these symptoms, you may want to talk to your doctor:
Pain and stiffness lasting for more than 1 hour in the morning or after a long rest
Joint inflammation in the joints closest to the hand, such as wrist and fingers, although the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, ankles, and feet can also be affected
Symmetrical pattern of inflammation, meaning both sides of the body are usually affected at the same time
Fatigue, an occasional fever, and a general sense of not feeling well (called malaise)

Effects of rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis can cause joint inflammation, which can affect the ability to go about your daily activities. If left untreated, RA can worsen and destroy joints. After the onset of the disease, some of the effects of RA are as follows:
Tendons become inflamed and may rupture (tear apart).
Swelling can severely damage or destroy ligaments that hold joints together. It can also damage joint cartilage and bone.
Erosion of the bones of the joint can occur, causing pain and deformity.

Rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis:

Persistent discomfort and swelling in multiple joints on both sides of your body, make an appointment to see your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment can help slow disease progression.

 

Over 50 And Living Better With Osteoarthritis


Fun With Kids? Don’t Let Arthritis Stop You.

Share a Hobby or Class

Spend time with your kids or grandkids and have fun while you’re moving. Even with arthritis, you can enjoy the low-impact exercise you need to keep your joints flexible and muscles strong. Try taking a class together or share an active hobby, such as swimming, golf, dancing, or gardening.

Train for a Fun Run or 5K

Take part in a local fun run, walk, or 5K with the kids but do it right, advises Patience H. White, MD, MA, vice president of public health for the Arthritis Foundation. Talk to your doctor to make sure running or walking is OK for you. Then find out the best way to get started based on your flexibility, strength, and ability.

Try Tabletop Games

Knee osteoarthritis pain can keep you from spreading out on the floor to play traditional games like puzzles, chess, and dominoes. Instead, take them to a table so you can sit comfortably. Or introduce kids to active games like table tennis, foosball, or billiards that let you move around to help prevent stiffness.

Cooking With the Kids

Every pound of excess weight you lose takes four pounds of pressure off your knees. So a healthy weight may mean less arthritis pain — particularly when you have knee osteoarthritis. Although no diet prevents arthritis or lessens its progression, a balanced diet is vital for weight management. Cook with the kids and whip up healthy muffins, casseroles, or breads.

Arts and Crafts

Get small muscles in motion by getting crafty. There are so many things you can do — from models, mosaics, and scrapbooks to jewelry, candles, and decorating clothes. If arthritis in your hands prevents you from doing a lot of cutting or painting, let the kids do the detail work while you do the bigger jobs or oversee the project.

Get Outside

Stretching and strength-building are vital if you have arthritis, so find a way to get some activity in while you’re outdoors. Grab the kids and kick through fallen leaves as you head out to fly kites. Toss a ball back and forth, but buy several sizes, to suit your grip. Or design an obstacle course that encourages flexibility along with fun. Just be sure to listen to your body, so you don’t overdo it.

Have High-Tech Fun

Get an easy aerobic workout as you walk parks and trails with geocaching, an outdoor treasure hunt that uses GPS to find hidden objects tucked inside containers. Or take the fun indoors with active video games that get you moving and off the couch. As with all exercise, avoid specific movements that put too much pressure on your joints.

Clean Up

Get a spic-and-span house and yard with the benefit of mild stretches and range-of-motion exercises. If your kids or grandkids are small, keep pint-sized brooms, mops, and rakes on hand, then get “help” with the chores. Remember to take stretching breaks often and alternate your motions so you don’t strain your joints. Choose ergonomic tools for easier gripping.

Go Treasure Hunting

Hide toys and trinkets around the yard or park (stretch gently when you are reaching to place the items), then join kids on a scavenger hunt. Or buy a few pairs of low-cost binoculars or magnifying glasses, grab a nature guide, and get some aerobic exercise as you search for birds, butterflies, bugs, or wild flowers.

Grow a Garden

Kids love digging in the dirt, so start a container garden or a couple of raised garden beds and see who can grow the brightest flowers or biggest tomatoes. Make sure you have great equipment, including pads to kneel on and ergonomic tools with fatter grips or longer handles.

Walk the Dog

Grab the kids and your dog and get walking. Not only will you get your muscles moving, but a stroll can help relieve arthritis symptoms for you and your pet. Research shows that walking can ease pain, improve function, and increase quality of life for people with osteoarthritis. For a stronger workout, enroll everyone in dog agility training classes.

Discover Your Own Fun

Whatever you do with your kids or grandkids, the point is to stay active. When you have arthritis, joints often hurt — so it’s tempting to stop using them. But then muscles get weak, joints have more trouble functioning, and pain may increase. So whether it’s swimming, walking, or just spending time on the playground, it’s important to keep moving.

Over 50 And Living Better With Osteoarthritis


 

Knee and Hip Exercises for Osteoarthritis

The old slogan, “Move it or lose it,” goes double, or perhaps triple, for people with osteoarthritis.

“Just like for anyone else, physical activity is important for overall health,” says Steffany Haaz, PhD, a health behaviorist at the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center. “But it’s even more important for people with arthritis because there’s disability associated with the condition, both the disability associated with the disease and the disability that happens when a joint doesn’t get exercised. First, you move less because it’s painful, then you start to lose the ability to move. It can become a vicious cycle.”

Years ago, arthritis was treated with rest and immobilization. Scientists have since learned that locking up the joints actually makes them worse.

“There’s a huge body of literature demonstrating that keeping the hips and knees moving, and the muscles around the joints strong, contributes greatly to protecting the joints and staving off additional damage caused by arthritis,” says Linda Arslanian, DPT, MS, director of rehabilitation services at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Of course, it’s not as simple as hopping on the treadmill or hitting the weight room. A healthy 30-year-old might be able to exercise however he pleases, but people with knee and hip osteoarthritis have limitations. Which exercises can you do to make the most of your mobility without increasing pain or risking injury?

“That’s the trick,” says Arslanian. “Some exercises actually can make knee and hip arthritis worse. Those are the ones that create a huge amount of impact loading on the joints — the ones we call ‘high impact’ activities,” she says.

Exercises to Avoid With OA of the Knee or Hip:

Running and jogging. “The difference between how much force goes through your joints jogging or running, as opposed to with walking, is sometimes more than tenfold your whole body weight,” says Arslanian.
Jumping rope.
High-impact aerobics.
Any activity where, at any time, you have both feet off the ground at once, however briefly.
Fortunately, that leaves a lot of activities that are OK for people with knee and hip osteoarthritis and that can help keep you mobile. There are three key areas you need to focus on: weight-bearing cardiovascular activity, to keep your bones strong and your heart healthy; muscle strengthening activity, to relieve strain on the joints; and flexibility and range of motion, to help prevent falls and keep your joints mobile.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Good cardiovascular exercises for people with knee and hip osteoarthritis include walking, swimming, and cycling. “Really, it’s anything that you can tolerate that gets your heart rate going,” says Haaz.

If you can take a brisk walk, it can keep you mobile and help to reduce pain. If walking for exercise is too painful, try a recumbent bicycle. “These bikes extend the angle of the joint so that the knee and hip aren’t flexing so much with each rotation, so that it might cause less strain and pain,” Haaz says.

If even the recumbent bike is too much, the swimming pool is your friend. “It feels great on the joints!” Haaz says. “You must find a pool that is heated, because cold water is very painful for arthritic joints. The only downside to swimming is that it doesn’t give you the delay of bone loss that is a key benefit of weight-bearing exercise.”

Muscle Strengthening Activity

You might think that lifting weights would be bad for arthritis, but some studies show that the opposite is true. By strengthening the muscles around the joints, strength training helps to take some of the load off the arthritic joints and relieves pain.

“The job of connective tissue is to hold things together, so you’re losing stability in the joint, part of what’s causing the pain. When you strengthen the muscles surrounding and supporting the joint, you can relieve some of the symptoms,” says Haaz.

In a recent study, older men and women with moderate knee osteoarthritis who went through a 16-week program of strength training reported an average of 43% decrease in pain and gained increased muscle strength, decreased disability, and lessened the clinical signs and symptoms of their disease.

Strength training also lessens the risk of falls, which can be a major risk for people with knee and hip osteoarthritis. A study from New Zealand found that women 80 old and older showed a 40% reduction in falls with simple strength and balance training.

You can also help to prevent falls through the gentle, easy motions of exercises like tai chi and easier yoga classes designed for people with arthritis, which will further improve your balance.

Flexibility and Range of Motion

There are a number of specific exercises that you can do, designed to be easy for people with osteoarthritis, to increase your flexibility and range of motion around your knees and hips.

“We want to do activities without force that bring the hips and knees through the full range of motion in a general, unforced manner, allowing the joint to lubricate itself and help to heal the damage,” says Arslanian. You can do these stretching exercises in a pool, or on a mat near a wall for support.

Before starting an exercise or flexibility training program, check with your doctor. Depending on your ability and comfort level, try these exercises 2 to 3 times per week and gradually work up to doing the exercises daily. Aim to do 2 to 3 sets of 8 repetitions per side.

Hip Exercises

Leg swings. Simply hold onto the edge of the pool, or the wall if you’re on land, and gently swing your leg out to the side, alternating sides. “The pool is particularly good for this, because the buoyancy assists you and you get a better range of motion, and you also have resistance from the water that makes your muscles do more work,” says Arslainian.
Leg extensions. In the same position, extend your leg gently backward, alternating legs. As with all range-of-motion exercises, Arslainian advises getting an expert consult before starting out. “If your hip is very tight, and you try to bring it behind you and it doesn’t move backward very well, you can end up overarching your back and causing back problems by doing it incorrectly. You need to be shown how to do it right.”

Knee Exercises

Knee rocks. Get down on one knee as if you’re proposing marriage (with a soft mat underneath to cushion your knees). Rock gently forward, keeping your shoulders straight. This stretches the front of the knee while protecting the lumbar spine. Make sure your knee does not extend past your toes as this can strain the knee.
Straight leg raises. Sit in a chair, straighten one leg, and raise it straight out in front of you. Alternate legs.
Leg curls. If you are nimble enough, lie on the floor on your stomach, and gently bend your heel back toward your buttocks, making sure to keep your hips on the ground.
All of these exercises should be done without weights, Arslanian advises. “In general, it’s not a good idea to put a weight on the ankle and bend and straighten the knee. That puts a lot of torque on the knee that can exacerbate arthritis. Instead, if you want to add weight, it’s better to use something like the full leg press machine, which has you lie down and push a plate up. With those, your full body weight is somewhat unloaded from the joint.”

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Osteoarthritis of the Knee: Hyaluronic Acid Joint Injections


In the U.S., almost 21 million adults are living with osteoarthritis. And one of the body’s critical joints, the knee, is the most frequently affected. More than 30% of people over 50 have knee osteoarthritis. So do a whopping 80% of those over 65. In fact, about 100,000 people in the U.S. can’t get from their bed to the bathroom because of osteoarthritis of the knee.

Getting hyaluronic acid joint injections is one treatment that may ease the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis. Hyaluronic acid joint injections are quick and relatively painless. They’ve been on the market for more than a decade. But studies on effectiveness show mixed results.

Recommended Related to Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis: 10 Tips for Self-Care at Home
Here are simple ways you can ease osteoarthritis symptoms on your own, at home. 1. Stay active. Exercise may be the last thing you want to do when your arthritis hurts. But many studies show that physical activity is one of the best ways to improve your quality of life. Exercise boosts your energy. It can also strengthen your muscles and bones, and help keep your joints flexible. Try resistance training to build stronger muscles. Your muscles protect and support joints affected by arthritis…
Read the Osteoarthritis: 10 Tips for Self-Care at Home article > >
Should you consider hyaluronic acid joint injections? There’s no simple answer. Experts say it depends on your symptoms, the other treatments you’ve tried, and your own preference.

What Are Hyaluronic Acid Joint Injections?

Hyaluronan occurs naturally in the synovial fluid that surrounds the joints. Hyaluronan is a thick liquid that helps lubricate the joints, making them work more smoothly.

In people with osteoarthritis, the consistency of hyaluronan becomes thinner. The idea behind hyaluronic acid joint injections is to replace some of the natural supply that’s been lost.

The procedure is simple. Hyaluronic acid is injected directly into the cavity around the knee joint. A typical course of treatment is one injection a week for three to five weeks. While it has only been FDA-approved for people with osteoarthritis of the knee, it’s sometimes tried in other joints as well.

There are various different brands of hyaluronan including :

Euflexxa
Hyalgan
Orthovisc
Supartz
Synvisc

While the types do differ in some ways, none has been shown to work better or worse than another.

Effectiveness of Hyaluronic Acid Joint Injections

How well do hyaluronic acid joint injections work? The answer isn’t clear. Many studies have sought to answer the question and come up with different results.

For instance, one study published in Rheumatology found that in the short term, hyaluronan was no better at reducing joint pain than a placebo injection of salt water. An analysis of seven different studies published in the Journal of Family Practice did not recommend the treatment in its conclusion, since the benefits — if it had any at all — were so slight.

But a similar analysis of twenty studies– published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery — found that injections of hyaluronan did reduce pain and increase the function of the knee in people with osteoarthritis.

In studies that show effectiveness, pain relief lasts up to six months or a year. It works better in some people than in others. People who are older or have advanced osteoarthritis may be less likely to be helped.

Making Your Decision on Hyaluronic Acid Joint Injections

What role should hyaluronic acid joint injections play in your personal treatment plan?

Typically, hyaluronan is only tried when other treatments — like physical therapy, exercise, and injections with painkillers and steroids — have failed, say the experts.

One advantage of hyaluronic acid joint injections is that the side effects are mild. The most common are swelling and discomfort at the site of the injection. Since the risks of hyaluronan are small, your doctor may feel it is worth a try — especially if your only other option is surgery.

Hyaluronan may also be a good choice if the side effects of other treatments aren’t acceptable.

For instance, some people cannot take common painkillers such as aspirin, Advil, Aleve, or Motrin because of the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. And steroid injections, another common treatment for osteoarthritis, can lead to joint deterioration if overused.

 

If you’re interested in hyaluronic acid joint injections, talk to your doctor. Given that side effects are mild and generally rare, your doctor may agree to give it a try. Make sure to check with your insurance company first. Not all insurance companies will cover the treatment, which is expensive.

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Foot and Ankle Osteoarthritis


Foot and Ankle Osteoarthritis

As you age, your chance of developing osteoarthritis, which is caused by wear and tear, increases. The joint damage associated with osteoarthritis causes swelling, pain, and deformity. Here is information about how osteoarthritis affects the foot and ankle and information you can use to help you manage this debilitating condition.

What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a general term for a group of more than 100 diseases. The word “arthritis” means “joint inflammation.” Arthritis involves inflammation and swelling in and around the body’s joints and surrounding soft tissue. The inflammation can cause pain and stiffness.

In many kinds of arthritis, progressive joint deterioration occurs and the smooth “cushioning” cartilage in joints is gradually lost. As a result, the bones rub and wear against each other. Soft tissues in the joints also may begin to wear down. Arthritis can be painful and eventually result in limited motion, loss of joint function, and deformities in the joints affected.

What Is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis, or “wear-and-tear” arthritis, is the most common type of arthritis. Also known as degenerative joint disease or age-related arthritis, osteoarthritis is more likely to develop as people age. Inflammation and injury to the joint cause a breaking down of cartilage tissues, resulting in pain, swelling, and deformity. The changes in osteoarthritis usually occur slowly over many years, though there are occasional exceptions.

How Does Osteoarthritis Affect the Foot and Ankle?

Each foot has 28 bones and more than 30 joints. The following are the most common foot joints affected by osteoarthritis:

The joint where the ankle and shinbone meet
The three joints of the foot that involve the heel bone, the inner mid-foot bone, and the outer mid-foot bone
The joint of the big toe and foot bone

What Are the Symptoms of Foot and Ankle Osteoarthritis?

Symptoms of foot and ankle osteoarthritis often include:

Tenderness or pain
Reduced ability to move, walk, or bear weight
Stiffness in the joint
Swelling in the joint
How Is Foot and Ankle Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of foot and ankle osteoarthritis most likely will involve:

A medical history in which the doctor asks questions about when and where the pain began
X-rays
Bone scans
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
How Is Foot and Ankle Osteoarthritis Treated?

Foot and ankle osteoarthritis can be treated in many ways. Nonsurgical methods to treat foot and ankle arthritis include:

Steroid medications injected into the joints
Anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling in the joints
Pain relievers
Pads or arch supports
Canes or braces to support the joints
Inserts that support the ankle and foot
Physical therapy
Custom shoes
Weight control

Tips on Foot Care With Osteoarthritis

The most essential element of foot care for people with foot and ankle osteoarthritis is to wear shoes that fit properly and feel comfortable. The following are things to look for in finding a comfortable shoe:

Shoes shaped like your foot
Shoes that have support — for example, no slip-on shoes
Rubber soles to provide more cushioning
Flexibility
Proper fit — ask the salesperson to help you with this
Exercise can help keep your feet pain-free, strong, and flexible. Exercises that can be good for your feet include:

Achilles stretch. With your palms flat on a wall, lean against the wall and place one foot forward and one foot back. Lean forward, leaving your heels on the floor. You can feel the pull in your Achilles tendon and your calf. Repeat this exercise three times, holding for 10 seconds on each repeat.
Big-toe stretch. Place a thick rubber band around your big toes. Pull the big toes away from each other and toward the other toes. Hold this position for five seconds and repeat the exercise 10 times.
Toe pull. Place a rubber band around the toes of each foot, and then spread your toes. Hold this position for five seconds and repeat the exercise 10 times.
Toe curl. Pick up marbles with your toes.

Is Surgery an Option for Foot and Ankle Osteoarthritis?

More than one kind of surgery may be required to treat foot and ankle osteoarthritis. Your doctor can select the kind of surgery that is best for you, depending on the extent of your arthritis. The following are some of the surgical options for foot and ankle osteoarthritis:

Fusion surgery. This kind of surgery, also called arthrodesis, involves fusing bones together with the use of rods, pins, screws, or plates. After healing, the bones remain fused together.
Joint replacement surgery. This kind of surgery involves replacing the ankle joint with artificial implants and is used only in rare cases.

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