What you need to know about osteoarthritis

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Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that is characterized by the loss of cartilage tissue that covers the ends of bones and facilitates fluid movement. There is a disruption in the smooth gliding surfaces in the affected knee joint. The condition can affect both athletes and non-athletes, but the process is likely to start due to an injury than normal use, even over a period of time.

How osteoarthritis develops?

In younger individuals, osteoarthritis in the knee can develop due to a knee injury or overuse. Take note that the articular cartilage that covers the ends of bones either gradually wears down or damaged by sustaining a blow.

If the individual has a history of previous knee injuries, overweight and instability in the joints, it can hasten the onset of osteoarthritis and result to disability. In older individuals, the surfaces of the joints are already worn out, but the wear and tear is mostly caused by injuries. This is the reason why it is called as a degenerative type of arthritis.

Who are at risk for osteoarthritis?

If the individual has a history of previous knee injuries, overweight and instability in the joints, it can hasten the onset of osteoarthritis and result to disability.

Sports such as football, tennis and soccer involve repeated contact or overuse. Based on studies conducted, there is minimal risk involved with recreational running. Osteoarthritis can also occur among older individuals who currently play or previously played a sport that exposed their knees to injuries.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis

If osteoarthritis is suspected, there is a gradual onset of the symptoms.

  • Joint aches and pains especially early in the morning
  • Limited range of motion
  • Swollen joints
  • Stiffness of the joints particularly after staying in a single position for an extended period

Take note that the symptoms of osteoarthritis typically worsens after engaging in strenuous activity or sports.

Treatment for osteoarthritis

When handling osteoarthritis, the primary first aid care is to instruct the individual to avoid using the affected leg until the incapacitating symptoms subside or look for other activities that places minimal stress on the knees.

You can apply heat before the individual exercises in order to boost the circulation and then apply ice afterward to minimize the swelling. For pain relief, you can apply gels or creams.

A knee brace can be used since it provides support to the joint while at the same time minimize pressure and control the swelling. Over-the-counter medications such as naproxen, aspirin and ibuprofen can help relieve the pain and inflammation.

Osteoarthritis in the knee is not an acute injury, thus returning to activity mostly depends on the ability of the individual to manage and tolerate the pain as well as the absence of the symptoms that can affect the performance.

Preventing osteoarthritis

There is no way to prevent osteoarthritis, but there are ways to minimize its effects or delay its onset. Initially, change or alternate the types of physical activity in order to minimize the load on the knees. Always remember not to increase the intensity, duration and frequency of the training drastically. Individuals who sustained an injury to the knee should undergo early treatment to prevent the development of osteoarthritis later on.

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