Monday, July 25, 2016

Research on Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis also known as OA is the most common form of arthritis. Millions of people worldwide are affected by this. It is sometimes called the "wear and tear" arthritis. But scientists now believe that it is a disease of the joint. Osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage or cushion tears or wears down leading to physical distress, difficulty moving and swelling pain. Joint tenderness can be felt during or after movement. Clicking and cracking sound are also signs of osteoarthritis. These negative effects may affect one's performance of ordinary tasks at home or at work. Simple activities such as fixing bed, opening a canned food, grasping a computer mouse, vacuuming a carpet or driving a car can be difficult to do. When lower body joints are affected, normal activities like walking, climbing stairs or lifting objects can also become difficult to do. When hand joints are affected, activities that involves grasping can be difficult as well. The most common areas of osteoarthritis are hips, knees, fingers and feet. Being active, healthy weight and other treatments can slow the development of this disease.

Many people believe that the effects of osteoarthritis can't be avoided. But hopefully, they can manage pain, stop joint damage and increase flexibility because their daily life, family and social life can be affected badly. The pain, reduced mobility and the side effects of medications can lead to other negative health problems. Hip or knee pain can cause the patient to sit for long periods of time which may lead to weight gain and obesity. Being overweight or obese can cause heart problems and diabetes.

People with osteoarthritis is in a dangerous situation of falling because of decreased function, muscle weakness and impaired balance. In fact, they have a chance of 30% more falls and 20% chance of getting a fracture than those without osteoarthritis. Medications like narcotic pain relievers can lead to fall because of dizziness and unbalanced position.

One of the factors of the development of Osteoarthritis is genetics. There are those people that inherit this rare defect of abnormal production of collagen in the body. Collagen is the protein that makes up the cartilage. This abnormal condition can lead to the development of osteoarthritis as early as the age of 20. Defects in the way bones fit together wears away the cartilage faster than usual.

As you get older, the risk of developing osteoarthritis increases. Women though are more prone to this disease.

Another factor is weight. Too much weight puts more pressure to the hips and knees. Being overweight for a long time can cause the cartilage to break down faster. Extra weight puts stress to weight bearing joints such as hips and knees. Research also showed that extreme amount of fat tissues produce inflammatory chemicals called cytokines that can destroy the joints.

Joint injuries and movements that are repetitious. e.g. fractures, surgeries or ligament tears. certain careers such as those athletes that repeatedly break their joints, ligaments and tendons and also those movements that require standing for a long time, bending and heavy lifting can speed up cartilage breakdown. Bone and joint disorders are also factors that contribute to the development of osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis diagnosis involves physical examination of the affected joint, checking of joint performance for tenderness, swelling and range of motion. The Doctor will also gather information of personal and family medical history which includes description of the symptom, how or when the pain started, information about other medical problems, location of the pain or swelling and how it affects your activities of daily living (ADL) and the medications currently taking. The Doctor may recommend imaging or lab tests to confirm diagnosis of the disease. These include: Joint aspiration, where the Doctor numb the affected area and then insert a needle to withdraw fluid. The fluid will be tested for crystals or joint deterioration; X-ray where cartilage loss is seen as well as bone spurs around a joint. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) produces detailed images of bone and soft tissues including cartilage. Blood tests and joint fluid analysis can help confirm the diagnosis.

There is no cure for osteoarthritis but treatments are available. Physical activities such as range of motion exercises, aerobic exercise, gentle stretching of the joints and walking around the neighborhood and easy body exercises can help ease pain, achieve healthy weight, maintain and improve flexibility and reduce stiffness. Yoga and tai chi can also help manage stiffness. Pain and anti-inflammatory medications are available for relief. Pain relievers such as analgesic which include acetaminophen, opioids (narcotics) and tramadol are available over the counter and through prescription. Over the counter Nonsteriodal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen (e.g. advil, motrin etc) and naproxen sodium can be taken at recommended dosage. Duloxetine (Cymbalta) is an anti-depressant that can treat chronic pain of osteoarthritis. Corticosteroid are strong anti-inflammatory medicines that can be injected or taken by mouth. Physical therapists can help with pain management. They can help create an individualized exercise program that will strengthen your muscles around your joints, increase range of motion and flexibility. Other exercise that s such as swimming or brisk walk can also help with the pain. Assistive devices such as scooters, canes, walkers, splints, shoe orthotics or helpful tools such as jar openers, long-handled shoe horns or steering wheel grips can help with functions and mobility. Nutritional supplements like avocado-soybean unsaponifiables, acupuncture and acupressure, massage, relaxation techniques and hydrotherapy are natural and alternative therapies that can help improve your well-being. An occupational therapist can give you advices that can help you face daily tasks or do your job that will prevent stress to your affected joints. According to research, tai chi and yoga reduce osteoarthritis pain and improve movement. If conservative treatments don’t help, there are procedures that can be performed. Cortisone injection is performed by numbing the area around the joint, then places the needle within the joint and injects the medication. This may relieve joint pain. But you can only have three or four injections each year because it will eventually worsen the joint damage. Hyaluronic acid injection may also give pain relief. Knee osteotomy can be performed by a surgeon when one knee is damaged. The surgeon cuts across the bone above or below the knee and then removes and adds a wedge of bone. Arthroplasty is the replacement surgery of the damaged joint being replaced by a plastic or metal parts.

The Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) established a standardized definition of Osteoarthritis. The purpose is to provide communication across the field and help advance drug development for OA. This will be recognized globally. They expect that this would help make the communication among industry and non-industry researchers, regulatory agencies, funding agencies, third party payers and patients easier. The definition is maintained by OARSI, and under their jurisdiction can be regularly refined as new scientific advances demands. The Foundation for National Institutes of health (FNIH) Osteoarthritis (OA) Biomakers Consortum project had significant progress in improving clinical outcomes for nearly 30 million people in the US that have OA of the knee and for those at risk. The Biomakers Consortum is a union of experts from the National Institutes of health (NIH), Food and Drug Administration, biotech and pharmaceutical companies, academia and diseased-focused non-profit organizations. The FNIH quest is to attain more exact ways to measure the progression of the disease and produce the expected and intended result of new treatments. The project is ongoing, discovering additional quantitative and semi-quantitative image assessments of the bones and cartilage in the knee joint. This was in the mid of 2013. That year there were 27 million Americans with OA. The knee OA is greater than the other medical condition to people age 65 and above. By year 2020, the number of people with OA will be doubled due to old age and obesity.

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