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Conventional Medical Treatment for Osteoarthritis

The medical treatment of osteoarthritis initially involves the use of simple analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs. Recently a new category of anti-inflammatory drugs (anticox2) has been recommended, because they produce fewer gastric pains and stomach ulcers.

DescriptionOf the more than 100 types of arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most common, afflicting 16 million Americans. In fact, osteoarthritis is said to be the most common-and, longest historically recognized-disorder known to humankind.Osteoarthritis can affect any joint of the body, but it most commonly occurs in the fingers and weight-bearing joints, such as the hips, ankles, and knees. The disease occurs when the cartilage, which covers the ends of the joints and acts as a cushion between bones, wears away, allowing the bones to rub against each other. For some people, this can be excruciatingly painful. On the other hand, many people with osteoarthritis experience no signs or symptoms of the condition.Even though osteoarthritis is usually limited to a single location, the afflicted joint can affect the entire body. Sometimes the muscles surrounding the joint tighten in order to soften the pain or protect the affected joint, while unaffected joints are forced to work overtime to make up for the ailing joint. In cases of osteoarthritis of the knee, the entire lower leg may eventually become deformed.Although the precise cause of osteoarthritis is not known, wear and tear appears to be the primary culprit. This is why osteoarthritis is also called wear-and-tear arthritis or degenerative joint disease. Thus, the college quarterback and the professional typist both of whose joints are taxed daily-are at heightened risk of developing osteoarthritis later in life. Osteoarthritis, especially in the hips and fingers, also tends to run in families.The risk of developing arthritis of the hand increases with age. In fact, by age 75, 85 percent of the population have some symptom of the condition. Often, bony knobs-also called nodes develop on the knuckles, making fingers look gnarled. Nodes usually appear first on a single finger but can grow to involve all the fingers. While nodes can be tender or slightly painful, they rarely cause any disability. Nearly 90 percent of people with nodes are women over age 45.Signs and SymptomsPain and tenderness in joints (typically, joints in one to three sites are affected, and the pain worsens after use and goes away with rest)Discomfort in affected joint before or during a change in the weatherSwelling in affected jointsWeakness and loss of flexibility in affected jointsIf the joints of the fingers are affected, bony knobs may be visible at the knucklesConventional Medical TreatmentAn X-ray may be used to detect the presence of osteoarthritis. However, there is no cure for the ailment. Conventional treatment usually involves exercises and physical therapy to keep the surrounding muscles strong and flexible. Pain and stiffness can be relieved by analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin). Bed rest and immobilization of the affected joint may be needed for brief periods of time. When all other measures fail to provide relief, surgical joint replacements (knee or hip) have very high success rates.

Article Tags: Affected Joint

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