Living with the chronic pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion caused by arthritis is draining and debilitating. In addition to the physical symptoms it can lead to chronic stress, anxiety, and depression as your quality of life decreases and you are able to do less and less.
In this article we’re going to look at a form of arthritis called osteoarthritis (OA), its symptoms, causes and treatment options.
What is Osteoarthritis?
If you break down the word osteoarthritis you will find that its parts define a disease that refers to inflammation and degeneration of the bone and joints. In a healthy joint cartilage and synovial fluid protect the bones at the joints from friction and damage. These cushioning substances provide a smooth gliding surface which allow the bones to move freely without pain. When arthritis is involved, the cartilage breaks down which leads to pain, stiffness, and restricted movement. As the cartilage and synovial fluid are damaged, bone meets bone which can lead to growths called “bone spurs”. Pieces of bone can also break off, causing even more inflammation.
Over 27 million Americans suffer with osteoarthritis. It occurs most often in those over 65 but can affect younger adults, especially those with joint injuries. OA most often affects the knees, hips hands, and lower back, and sometimes the shoulders.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
Symptoms of OA build over time and commonly include:
- Stiffness in the morning and evening
- Sharp aches and burning sensations in the joints that worsen with activity
- Limited range of motion that goes away after some movement
- Clicking or cracking when bending joints
- Mild swelling around the joints
Causes of Osteoarthritis
Although the causes aren’t fully understood, the following risk factors contribute to the development of OA:
- Degradation of the joints over a long period of time such as with aging
- Inflammation which breaks down cartilage through cell death or prevents new cartilage from forming
- Joint injury which leads to inflammation and cell death
- Obesity which leads to mechanical stress on the joints
- Neurological Disorders
- Autoimmune Disease
- Lyme Disease
- Certain medications
Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis
Although there are medications and pain relievers that can help with osteoarthritis, none of these address the root cause of the problem. Our mission at LifeWorks Wellness Center is to help you find the root cause, address it and help alleviate pain and degeneration through natural means. Since there can be several factors involved in the development of OA we want to look at these to see what is contributing to your particular situation.
Certainly since inflammation is a major factor in the development of arthritis we look for evidence of leaky gut, food allergies, viral infections, environmental toxicity, and stressful lifestyles among others. Lyme disease can also lead to arthritis. At our Clearwater clinic we test for inflammation by checking blood work, stool tests, and urine tests.
There are several treatment options for OA including but not limited to: