Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It causes deterioration of the joint cartilage and formation of reactive new bone at the margins of the joint. This chronic degeneration of cartilage breakdown mostly affects fingers, knees and hips. Herberden and Bouchard's nodes are typically seen in the distal and proximal finger joints. Initially, the nodes may be red, swollen and painful. Eventually, they become painless but are associated with limited joint mobility. The earliest symptoms occurs in middle age and progresses with advancing age. Depending on the site and severity of joint involvement, disability can range from minor limitation to near immobility.
Signs and Symptoms:
>Contractures: loss of muscle function at the joint
>Deep, aching joint pain
>Gait abnormalities: when hips or knees are affected
>Joint instability, swelling, tender and warm
>Limited and painful joint movement
>Predisposing event such as traumatic injury
What you can do to treat and slow progression of osteoarthritis.
You must perform as much self-care as your limitations will allow. Not moving the joints around will quickly lead to contractures. This is irreversible. Unless you have surgery. You must identify techniques which allow you to perform as much activities as you can in addition to promoting adequate rest. Bathe the affected hand in a warm to hot soak. This will stimulate increased blood flow to the hand. Massages and exercise are a great way to reduce muscle spasms and atrophy to the joints.
If you suffer from knee or hip arthritis and are overweight, weight reduction needs to be at the top of your list. Your knees and hips take all the pounding of walking. Additionally, your knees and hips take the full force applied while standing. Simply put, if you don't lose the weight, any treatment plan your on will not be successful and your discomfort levels will continue. Take prescribed medication as directed by your physician. Usual medicinal treatment are anti-inflammatories. O-T-C medication such as Cosamin DS will aid in decreasing joint pain and inflammation. As always, please discuss with your physician before adding any O-T-C medication to your daily regimen.
Trisha M. Pacenti RN,BSN
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