Osteoarthritis (OA) is a painful condition involving the deterioration of the cartilage inside your joints. Affecting some 27 million people in America, it is, by far, the most common arthritic condition.
Inside the joints where human bones meet - places like elbows, knees, shoulders, ankles, and knuckles - is a spongy tissue at the end of the bones called cartilage. Cartilage cushions the bones when we move, protecting the ends from touching, allowing us to twist, bend, turn, and enjoy a broad range of motion. The older we get, the more cartilage can deteriorate - especially in joints that we use over and over. It can also be damaged through injury. As cartilage degrades, the bones are no longer being properly cushioned. The joints can become damaged. Pain and stiffness result, and range of motion is diminished. A person with this kind of deteriorated joint is said to be suffering from osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis can affect anyone, but there are some risk factors that can increase your chances of having the condition:
Recurring pain in any joint can indicate OA, especially:
Osteoarthritis is so common, that conversationally, when people say “arthritis” they are usually referring to OA. But medically, the term “arthritis” refers to a range of conditions involving the joints. Other painful arthritic conditions are the result of swelling and inflammation in the joints caused by autoimmune reactions. These conditions include Rheumatoid Arthritis, Inflammatory Arthritis, and Spondylosis.
Once you are diagnosed with OA, there are many treatment options to help you. Excessive pain does not need to be endured. Maintaining an active lifestyle - and not becoming sedentary - is important. Movement can help lessen pain and prevent it from getting worse. But you need to know the right, safe, and smartest moves for you.
Like all treatments, your proper “movement prescription” requires having a pinpoint diagnosis and an understanding of your unique, personal condition.