The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis affects millions of people worldwide. Cartilage is the tissue that is found at the end of bones, providing them with a cushion so that move freely against each other. In the case of osteoarthritis, this coating wears down because of which the bones are no longer able to move as freely as earlier. Although each and every joint can be affected by arthritis, the joints that carry the most weight, i.e. our knees and feet, are mostly affected. It also affects joints that we use a lot such as hands. Although it is not possible to reverse the disease, however, the symptoms can be managed. Also, with a balanced diet, weight management, and certain medications, the condition can be slowed down.

Symptoms For Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis can cause the following symptoms to show:

  • Pain in the affected joint: This might get worse when you move, or at the end of the day.
  • Stiffness in the affected joint: This probably happens after rest, and gets better with some movement.
  • Restricted movement: The affected joint(s) might not be able to move as freely as it did before. Also, there could be crackling sound after movement.
  • Muscle wasting: It might also happen that the muscle around the affected joint gets thin and/or appear wasted.

If you have any of the above symptoms, do consult your doctor right away.

Reason(s) For Osteoarthritis

Following are the possible reasons behind osteoarthritis:

Age: Osteoarthritis generally happens from the late 40s. It might be because with age bones, and muscles weaken. Also, many people gain weight as they age, and the body is not able to heal as quickly, and efficiently as before.

Obesity: When you are overweight, or obese, there is additional pressure, especially on certain joints such as knees, and hips, which can lead to osteoarthritis.

Hereditary: Genetics plays a role in who gets, or doesn’t get osteoarthritis.

Joint injury: Injury to a joint, and the corresponding surgery for it can lead to this disease.

Joint abnormalities: If you are born with a joint abnormality, or develop it later in life, it can result in osteoarthritis in that joint.

Other joint diseases: Certain joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, and gout can affect the joints, which in turn can lead to the development of osteoarthritis.

Risk Factors For Osteoarthritis

Other than the above-mentioned causes, there are factors that can put you at a greater risk of getting the disease:

Gender: Women are more likely to get osteoarthritis as compared to men. They are also affected more seriously.

Physical Activity: Although normal activities, and exercise don’t lead to osteoarthritis. But if you perform hard, and repeated activities that are extremely physically challenging, it can put you at risk of getting the disease.

Effect Of Osteoarthritis

The disease that affects the joins affects a person in the following ways:

  • He/she would suffer from joint pain.
  • There will be stiffness in the joint.
  • There can be sleep disturbance due to the pain.
  • It can even cause depression.

How To Manage Osteoarthritis Symptoms?

There is no cure for osteoarthritis yet. However, there are ways you can manage the symptoms associated with this disease:

Balanced Diet: As per some studies, certain nutrients can ease osteoarthritis symptoms. Hence, include nutrients such as vitamin C, omega 3 fatty acids in your diet. However, instead of focusing on just one/few nutrients, have a balanced diet that includes all the nutrients. Have plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy, meats, and healthy fats.

Exercise: It might seem that exercise is not ideal in the case of arthritis, however, as per some studies working out helps, as it boosts energy, and improves the quality of life. Focus on those exercises that strengthen the muscles, because these will support the joints affected by arthritis. Also, focus on aerobic exercises that will help you lose weight, as weight management is crucial to prevent excessive weight on certain joints.

Hot and cold therapy: Hot compress relieves pain, while cold compress relieves swelling. Hence, you can use a combination of both to understand what works for you.

While resting: The joints affected by osteoarthritis often get stiff while resting and can cause pain. You can use pillows to relieve undue stress on those joints.

Medication: Certain medicines ease arthritis pain. However, consult a doctor before having them, as they can cause side effects.

Arthritis can be a difficult condition to live with, hence talk to people, and don’t shy away from seeking support.

Diet For Osteoarthritis

Food cannot cure osteoarthritis, but having a balanced one can help ease its symptoms. For example, anti-inflammatory foods will ease inflammation, while antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and E might prevent further damage to the joints. Also, having a balanced diet helps in weight management, which is crucial to not put additional pressure on the affected joints. Hence, if you are suffering from osteoarthritis, include the following foods in your diet that are approved by renowned Dietitian Swati Bathwal:

  • Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese contain calcium, and vitamin D, which increases bone density and strength. 
  • Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, and kale contain antioxidants and vitamin D, which helps the body to absorb calcium. 
  • Green tea, as it is rich in antioxidants. 
  • Oily fish, which is rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Oils such as extra virgin olive oil have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Just like there are foods that can ease osteoarthritis symptoms, there are those that can worsen them.
  • Excessive intake of sugar causes inflammation and also makes you gain weight, both of which you should avoid when suffering from osteoarthritis.
  • Just like sugar, an excessive intake of salt leads to water retention, which in turn causes inflammation, and can lead to the joints swelling.
  • Foods such as butter, red meat, full-fat dairy, fast, and fried foods contain saturated fats, which cause inflammation. Similarly, trans fats, which are present in processed foods, also cause inflammation.
  • Alcohol is also linked to inflammation, hence, you should avoid, or limit its intake.

Exercises You Can Do While Suffering From Osteoarthritis

As we saw that some level of exercise and physical activity is needed in case of osteoarthritis, you shouldn’t overexert yourself, so as to cause excessive stress on the joints. Here are some exercises that you can do:

  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Strength training

Treatment For Osteoarthritis

There is no cure for osteoarthritis, however, managing its symptoms will help you carry on your life normally. Make certain lifestyle changes, such as be physically active and have a balanced diet. You can seek physical therapy and take medications to ease the pain. The disease can take a mental toll, hence consult an expert if needed.

Prevention Tips For Osteoarthritis

There are certain tips that might protect you from developing osteoarthritis:

  • Weight management to not put unnecessary stress on certain joints.
  • Be physically active
  • Focus on such workouts that help strengthen muscles.
  • As we saw that joint injury is one of the causes of this disease. Hence, be careful not to get such injury.
  • Watch out for symptoms. If you notice any of them, consult a doctor right away.

So, as we saw that osteoarthritis is probably the most common type of arthritis, for multiple reasons. There is no cure for it, however, there are ways to manage its symtoms. Also, you can follow certain prevention techniques to protect yourself from getting this disease in the first place.