Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis, affecting billions of patients worldwide. It can damage any joint in patient’s body, but usually this disorder affects the joints in patient’s knees, hands, spine & hips. Signs & symptoms of osteoarthritis can be adequately managed, although the fundamental process cannot be reversed. Remaining active, managing healthy weight & other treatments may moderate progression of osteoarthritis & help improve discomforting pain & function of the joint. Although osteoarthritis occurs in patients of all ages, but it is most commonly seen in patients who are older than 60 years of age. According to recent health reports, following conclusions concerning osteoarthritis are made.
- One in four adults will develop symptoms of hip osteoarthritis by 80 years of age
- One in two adults will develop symptoms of knee osteoarthritis during their lives
- One in 14 people above 60 years of age will get hand osteoarthritis
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is one of the more common forms of arthritis which results from progressive degeneration of protective cartilage between bones of larger joints in the human body. This disorder develops due to wear & tear of cushioning cartilage mostly between the weight-bearing joints of hips, spine & knees. Osteoarthritis cannot be termed as disease since it is not acquired by an external factor but is instead caused due to slow degeneration of the cartilage tissue between the bones of larger joints. Cushioning cartilage tissue is found to suffer natural breakdown with passage of time.
Osteoarthritis is a result of wear & tear which the soft cartilage, acting as a cushion & shock absorber in-between joint bones suffer. This wear & tear is mostly caused due to old age as joints naturally lose their water-retaining capacity with the passage of time. However, there are certain other factors that also help in advancement of osteoarthritis which are described as follows.
- Hereditary – Certain defects in genetics of a patient causes restricted production of cartilage. This leads to faster deterioration of cartilage & onset of early osteoarthritis. Patients with congenital joint deformities are more likely to develop osteoarthritis as well as patients who suffer from scoliosis.
- Obesity – Obesity increases risk of developing osteoarthritis in patient’s weight-bearing joints such as spine, hip & knee.
- Injury – Severe injury to joints are likely to increase chances of osteoarthritis if cartilage gets damaged due to an injury. Fracture near joints also increase risk of osteoarthritis.
- Joint Overuse – Occupation which requires performing repetitive tasks using particular joints may also increase chances of developing osteoarthritis.
- Other Factors – Rheumatoid arthritis also results in osteoarthritis. Certain rare medical conditions such as excessive growth hormone production & iron overload also increase risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis symptoms may vary, depending upon severity of joints which are affected. Most common symptoms are stiffness & pain, especially observed after resting or in the morning. Seriously affected joints may get inflated, especially after prolonged activity. Some most commonly experienced signs & symptoms of osteoarthritis include the following.
- Extremely stiff or sore Joints, specifically the knees, hips & lower back area after overuse or inactivity
- Stiffness or restricted range of motion or stiffness which fades away on movement
- Moderate swelling around joints
- Cracking or licking sound when joints bend
- Pain which seems worse after strenuous activity or toward end of the day
Osteoarthritis may severely affect different parts of the patient’s body.
- Hips – Patients may feel pain in buttocks or groin area & sometimes on the inside portion of thighs or knees.
- Knees – Patients may feel ‘scraping’ or ‘grating’ sensation while moving the knee.
- Fingers – Spurs or bony growths at the verge of joints can cause patient’s fingers to become tender, swollen & red. Patients may experience pain at the base of the thumb.
- Feet – Tenderness & pain is observed in large joint at the base of the big toe. There may also be swelling in patient’s toes or ankles.
Osteoarthritis pain, stiffness or swelling may make it tough to perform even simple tasks at home or at work. Ordinary acts like opening food box, tucking in bed sheets, holding a computer mouse or merely driving a car can become almost impossible. When patient’s lower body joints are distressed, then activities such as climbing stairs, lifting objects or simply walking may become hard. When hands & finger joints are grieved, osteoarthritis can make it tough to hold & grasp objects, such as a pen or to do subtle tasks, such as needlework.
Orthopedic surgeons will start from physical evaluation of patients. Apart from this, they may suggest imaging tests. Precise photos of tender joints can be achieved during imaging tests.
- X-Rays – Cartilage cannot be seen on X-ray photos, but the loss of cartilage can be revealed by narrowing of the area between bones in patient’s joints. An X-ray scan may also exhibit bone spurs nearby joints. Some patients may have X-ray indication of osteoarthritis before they feel any symptoms.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging Test (MRI) – This test uses radio waves & powerful magnetic field to create detailed images of soft tissues & bone, including cartilage. An MRI is not required to diagnose osteoarthritis but may aid in providing additional information in complex cases.
- Lab Tests – Inspecting patient’s blood or joint fluid can help orthopedic surgeons to confirm diagnosis.
- Blood Tests – Although there is no specific blood test for diagnosing the condition of osteoarthritis, several tests may aid in preventing other causes of joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- Joint Fluid Analysis – Orthopedic surgeons may use a needle to take out fluid out of the concerned joint. Testing & examining this fluid from patient’s joints can help determine if any inflammation is present & if the pain is caused by an infection or gout.
Main aim of treatment of osteoarthritis is to provide relief from painful & debilitating symptoms, as osteoarthritis is not curable. Following are some treatment methods which are used for osteoarthritis.
- Medications – There are various medicines that are helpful in relieving symptoms of osteoarthritis.
- Acetaminophen – These medicines are helpful in relieving pain but are not known to reduce inflammation of joints. These are mostly useful for mild to moderate osteoarthritis cases.
- Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) – These types of medicinal drugs are helpful in relieving pain as well as reducing swelling (inflammation) of joints.
- Therapy – There are a number of therapies that are effective in achieving relief from osteoarthritis as well as reducing risk of developing this condition. Following therapies are usually suggested by orthopedic surgeons.
- Physical Therapy – Physical therapy concentrates on regaining movement in affected joints as well as strengthening muscles around the joint to reduce pain.
- Occupational Therapy – This therapy is useful in devising new ways to perform everyday tasks that are otherwise painful for patients with osteoarthritis.
- Braces, Shoes inserts & Other Devices – These are certain bespoke devices that orthopedic surgeons recommend for use to enable patients to perform, otherwise painful everyday tasks. These devices help by immobilizing the joint or providing much needed support.
Few weeks before undergoing surgical treatment for osteoarthritis, patients need to talk to orthopedic surgeons about what they are required to do for getting ready for the surgical procedure. Like for example, patients may be required to arrange for someone to drive them back home & to help them after surgery. In addition to this, patients need to discuss their complete health status with orthopedic surgeons & the medications they are consuming regularly as treatment for some underlying medical conditions.
Patients can ask the following questions to orthopedic surgeons for clearing any doubts regarding the treatment for osteoarthritis.
- Which factors are responsible for the condition of osteoarthritis?
- What medications or drugs can I take if I frequently suffer from pain?
- Would medication be sufficient for treating my osteoarthritis?
- What are some suitable exercises for me to try before considering surgery as treatment for osteoarthritis?
- Will flexing & stretching the joint help to be pain-free?
- Why does the weather affect my condition?
- Will physical activity makes my symptoms worse or provide relief?
- Are there alternative options which I should consider?
- Should I see a physical therapist if I experience pain following the procedure?
- What measures can I take to prevent my condition from getting worse?
When non-surgical therapies & medication treatments are unsuccessful in relieving symptoms of osteoarthritis the orthopedic surgeon will suggest any of the following procedures.
- Cortisone Injections – Corticosteroid injections are helpful in relieving joint pain. Orthopedic surgeons will numb the area around the joint with a local anesthetic & inject corticosteroid directly into the cartilage area.
- Lubrication Injections – Hyaluronic acid injections offer some pain relief by providing cushioning in the joint. This acid is similar to the substance found in the joint fluid.
- Joint Replacement – This is also known as ‘arthroplasty’. Orthopedic surgeons will remove the damaged joint components or surface of the bones forming the joint & replace them with implants made from medical-grade plastic or metal-alloys. Joint replacement surgery is the most common procedure for replacing hip & knee joints.
Healthy lifestyle changes can make a huge difference in osteoarthritis symptoms. Patients will get relief from harsh pain but it cannot be completely cured even by surgical methods. To get maximum benefit from surgical procedure, patients should follow the guidelines of orthopedic surgeons. Exercise can enhance patient’s endurance & strengthen the muscles around the joint, making the joint stable. Patients should focus on losing weight post-surgery. Obesity or being overweight escalates the stress on patient’s weight-bearing joints like hips & knees. Weight loss will be helpful in relieving pressure & minimizing pain. Patients may apply over-the-counter pain medications & gels in case of severe osteoarthritis pain. Some creams help in numbing pain by producing a cool or a hot sensation. Pain medications, especially creams, work best on joints which are close to the surface of patient’s skin, such as fingers or knees. Patients may use assistive devices to make it smoother for walking without stressing the painful joint. In addition to this, grabbing or gripping tools can also be used if patients have osteoarthritis in fingers.
Severe complications are rare. However, following potential risks & complications may be observed following the surgical procedure for treating osteoarthritis.
- Aches & Pains
- Sore Throat
- Blood Clots
Healthy routine &some essential treatments are key to managing osteoarthritis pain & disability, but another vital factor for treatment is patient’s own outlook towards life. Patient’s optimistic attitude, ability to stay strong mentally despite disability & pain caused by osteoarthritis often tells how much of an impact osteoarthritis can have in their daily life. Patients should consult a surgeon whenever they feel tired or frustrated & should stay strong in order to live a happy life.
Medical Tourism for Best Medical Treatment Options
Healthcare Tourism or Medical Tourism generally refers to people traveling to another country for medical care. Nowadays thousands of people all around the world including United States travel abroad for healthcare every year. Prime reason for many of these people seeking medical care overseas is because treatment is excellent & affordable in other countries, while some of these international tourists may be immigrants wanting to undergo medical procedures in their homeland. Then there are quite a few medical tourists who are traveling to undergo therapy or treatments which are not available within their own countries. Some of the most popular procedures which these patients seek include cardiac surgery, orthopedic procedures, dentistry & cosmetic surgery. This is why we are now experiencing both quantitative & qualitative shifts in patient mobility, where patients are traveling from richer to lesser developed countries in order to access healthcare services. These shifts are largely driven by increased marketing, online consumer information about availability of healthcare services, availability of inexpensive flights & relative low-cost of medical procedures.
Treatment for Osteoarthritis with Travcure Medical Tourism
Travcure Medical Tourism is a leading global healthcare facilitator. Main objective of Travcure is to offer international patients the highest standard of orthopedic treatments & surgeries under the guidance of top-class orthopedic surgeons in countries like Turkey, Germany, United Arab Emirates (Dubai), South Korea (Seoul) & India. Travcure is associated with a chain of multispecialty hospitals providing personalized attention to international patients using state-of-the-art technology which is regulated by orthopedic surgeons practicing ethical protocols. International patients can enjoy a hassle-free medical tour with Travcure for efficient treatments for painful conditions of osteoarthritis.
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