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by Ed Dunning


Osteoarthritis is a disease of the cartilage, which is the protective shock absorber that separates bones and keeps them from rubbing together. Once this protective substance is destroyed, the bones will grind on each other and lead to joint injury. Although the exact cause of Osteoarthritis is not known, it is usually blamed on genetics, old age, or the result of an injury to the joint.

Osteoarthritis is not like Rheumatoid Arthritis in that it does not affect the body symmetrically. There are three main areas of the body that are usually affected by this type of arthritis. They are the fingers, hip and knees, and spine. Symptoms begin with an occasional aching in the joint that lasts only a few minutes. Gradually as more cartilage is worn away, the pain increases and becomes continuous. There is usually limitation of joint movement and localized tenderness when the joint is touched. The joint feels warm and there may be considerable swelling. Lumps on the bone called osteophytes may develop and begin to pinch surrounding nerves causing severe pain. As the condition progresses, the joint becomes unable to be moved. Tendons become shortened and muscles go into spasm.

People diagnosed with Osteoarthritis need to take charge of their condition. They must live a proper lifestyle that includes the right kinds of exercise. Swimming and water related movement is very beneficial to the arthritis patient since exercising in water puts less strain on joints. Other aspects of their lifestyle must include eating the right foods, getting enough rest and eliminating such things as smoking, alcohol and illegal drugs. Doctors can prescribe medications that can help with the pain and joint inflammation. As with other types of arthritis, the patient can find many products on the market that are designed to help them accomplish everyday tasks. These simple aids can make a very big difference in the quality of their lives.

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This article was published on Monday 01 September, 2008.
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