Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis. It affects the weight-bearing joints such as the knees, neck, back, hip, fingers, and big toes. The cartilage of these joints are affected when there is too much stress on these joints, such as using weight bearing exercises to strengthen muscles. This is when there is pain in the joints that are affected.
Osteoarthritis is often thought of being a disease of the elderly, but this is not necessarily so. Since many young people are working out at the gym or elsewhere to improve their physique, they are also damaging their joints. Although physical exercises are considered to be good, it can be harmful if overdone.
Normal cartilage which is located inside the joint contains water. It is elastic and acts like a sponge or cushion. This is what prevents the bones from rubbing against each other.
As people start getting older, the natural movements, such as lifting and other stresses on the joints, cause the cartilage to dry out. This causes the bones within the joint to rub against each other, and this is why it is painful when there is movement in the affected area.
There is no cure for osteoarthritis once the cartilage is gone. There is good news, however, for those who are in the younger age group. There are new treatments that have presently been developed. This type of treatment has been developed to replace the tissues that have been lost in the hopes of restoring the cartilage in those who are under 40. Here again, if the new treatments help, the patient has to remember that problems can arise if there is a continuation of the weight bearing exercises.
For those who may not benefit from the new treatment, they can relieve pain, inflammation, and swelling by placing ice packs on the painful area. Heat relaxes the muscles and stimulates the circulation. Some specialists recommend alternating hot and cold compresses, starting with a hot compress for about three minutes, followed by a cold compress for about thirty seconds, and repeating this procedure about three times.
Physiotherapy is a good treatment for any age group. The physiotherapist will prescribe a wide range of exercises. Isometric and isotonic exercises improve muscle tone. It increases flexibility, reduces stiffness, and will keep you mobile. Stretching exercises will also increases mobility. Isometric exercises contract the muscles without moving the joint. It improves muscle strength. Tightening the quadriceps is an example of an isometric exercise.
Source: Live Now, Age Later by Isadore Rosenfeld, M.D.