Arthritis comes in many forms, but none are more common than osteoarthritis, also known as OA and degenerative joint disease. OA occurs when the cartilage inside a joint begins to show signs of wear, resulting in pain, inflammation and limited mobility. The disease can strike nearly any joint in the body, although it tends to develop in the hands, neck, feet and weight-bearing joints, such as the hips, spine and knees. Osteoarthritis is also prevalent in joints that have been injured in the past or undergo repeated stress.
If you suffer from OA, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the discomfort associated with the disease.
1. Keep your muscles strong. Physical exercise that keeps your muscles conditioned can reduce the impact on your joints, as well as any motion-related pain. Workouts that take advantage of resistance bands are the best form of low-impact strength training. The resistance level of the band can be changed with very little effort and without placing undue force on your joints.
2. Low-impact exercise. In addition to training with resistance bands, you should engage in low-impact exercise for optimum health. Conventional exercises such as running and jogging will most likely be too stressful on your joints and can aggravate your OA. Low-impact fitness routines include bicycling or riding a stationary bike, walking, hiking, low-impact aerobics and swimming. Swimming is a particularly good exercise as the buoyancy of the water relieves pressure on your joints and affords you the full range of motion you might not enjoy with other exercises.
3. Maintain flexibility. Staying flexible is key when fighting osteoarthritis because it helps avoid injuries to your muscles and joints. Joints can become tight when the surrounding muscles begin to atrophy from lack of exercise or under use. Keeping your muscles limber will cut down on the chances of straining your joints. Two of the best methods for maintaining flexibility are yoga and Pilates. Chair stretch routines are another safe, effective and easy regimen you can practice from the comfort of your home to keep muscles loose.
4. Physical Therapy. Physical therapy is the primary treatment for the pain and limited mobility associated with OA. Exercise and strengthening will reduce your pain and help you to maintain your function. A physical therapist can not only treat the affected joint, but can also initiate a fitness program inclusive of strength training, aerobic exercise and flexibility. Working with a physical therapist is a great, unintimidating way to initiate a training program. A prescribed fitness program would include stability, balance and flexibility training.
5. Medication. Acetaminophen is often the first choice for pain relief when treating OA because it produces fewer side effects than over-the-counter, non-steroidal medications. It is important to take this medication as per the medication labeling instructions and not to exceed the advised dosing recommendations. If your pain and/or swelling persist, your doctor may tell you to take over-the-counter NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen and naproxen. For severe pain or inflammation, your doctor may give you a prescription for other anti-inflammatory or pain medication.
6. Joint Fluid Replacement. One of the most common areas to develop osteoarthritis is in the knee. Joint fluid inside the knee acts as a shock absorber by cushioning the stress placed on the joint itself. Over time, this fluid can wear down and lead to OA. To combat this through non-invasive, non-surgical techniques, your doctor may suggest Joint Fluid Replacement. The procedure consists of injecting additional fluid into the knee in order to replace the fluid that has broken down. Most Joint Fluid Replacements consist of three injections spread out over a three-week period and boasts few to no side effects. Pain relief with Joint Fluid Replacement typically lasts up to six months.
7. Regenokine Therapy. Regenokine Therapy is a new, non-surgical procedure aimed at treating mild to severe cases of osteoarthritis. Recently the LA Times and the NY Post reported that a number of celebrities and professional athletes have sought out this treatment to stave off the effects of OA and to improve their games.
Regenokine, recently reported in the news as Orthokine, works by isolating a protective immune protein, as well as other healing factors, found in a patient’s blood, concentrating those factors, and injecting them into an osteoarthritic joint. These protective factors block inflammatory proteins that can damage joint cartilage when they proliferate within an affected joint. The abundance of the inflammatory protein results in many of the symptoms of OA. Injections of the concentrated blocking factors work to counteract those symptoms and impede or halt the progression of the disease.
There are many ways to handle osteoarthritis both through clinical and at-home treatments. By getting the right kind of exercise, you’ll be able to live with less pain and greater mobility. If pain and inflammation persists, consult with your physician to try other treatment options. There is hope to reduce the pain of OA and to increase your mobility.