Any condition that irritates or destroys a joint is referred to as arthritis. The most common form of arthritis is called osteoarthritis. It is estimated that 21 million Americans suffer from some form of osteoarthritis, and as the population continues to grow older, the incidence of this disease will increase dramatically.
Osteoarthritis, or OA, occurs when the cartilage between bones begins to erode or wear away. As the cartilage wears away, rubbing of one bone against another causes pain, often debilitating pain, in the affected joint. Any joint in your body can become arthritic. Injuries, overuse, obesity, genetics, or simply normal wear and tear may contribute to the loss of cartilage in the joint.
Currently, there is no “cure” for OA; there are, however, many treatment options available. Medications, physical therapy, and surgery are three options you and your physician may consider when discussing you treatment.
Someday, scientists may discover a way to “regenerate” damaged or worn cartilage. Until then, the best treatment is prevention. Good health practices, including weight control and proper exercise, can add years of pain free use of bone joints. And don’t ignore pain! Pain is a signal that your body needs your help. See your doctor if you are experiencing joint pain, especially in weight bearing joints such as your knee or hip. Your doctor will be able to tell you if you have OA and how best to treat your condition.