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 i.e. osteophytes. 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.
The human body is meant to move. You must perform as much self-care as your limitations will allow. Not moving the joints around will quickly lead to contractures. Contractures are 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. Massages, laser therapy and purposeful exercise are ways 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. If you don't lose the excess weight, any treatment plan your on will not be successful and your discomfort levels will continue.
Take prescribed medication as directed by your physician. The usual medicinal treatments are
NSAIDs, narcotics, and/or 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