Osteoarthritis patient numbers have been steadily rising over the past three decades and millions of adults over 50 deal with daily illness-induced pains and limited mobility. Although weight control and exercise might slow the progress of the illness, medical intervention is required to manage advanced cases.
The number of people with osteoarthritis—a degenerative joint disease—jumped by 113% over the past three decades. Given that over 32M of adult Americans are affected by the disease and the cases continue to rise, people who might be prone to developing osteoarthritis tend to need guidance as to how to deal with it.
Osteoarthritis mostly affects people over 50 and is found in the knee, hip, and shoulder joints, among others. Studies show that the disease usually afflicts people who are overweight, do not engage in physical activity, have genetic prevalence, or suffer from certain chronic disorders.
Dr. Sarunas Tarasevicius, a surgeon at Nordorthopaedics Clinic, a leading international orthopedic center in Kaunas, Lithuania, explained that although people can do certain things to slow down the progress of the osteoarthritis, medical intervention is the only option that actually reduces the pain and improves the quality of life in the long run.
Osteoarthritis manifests in joint pains, stiffness, swelling, and restricted mobility. Therefore people who have all the symptoms and live with a limited range of movement, experience discomfort and pain during usual daily activities, as well as have signs of joint cartilage damage confirmed by X-rays are recommended to start treatment.
Although physical therapy helps to a certain extent in the initial stages of osteoarthritis, the more advanced cases require medical treatment, Dr. Tarasevicius explained. “Anti-inflammatory medication helps to deal with pain for the time being. Intra-articular injections of hormones is another short-term illness management method which reduces the inflammation and pain, but lasts for up to 3 months.”
However, if the medication does not produce any results, the only option is surgery and, specifically, joint endoprosthesis. “It is the only means that truly helps to manage an advanced osteoarthritis,” the surgeon said. “Besides the significant reduction of pain, the surgery improves joint function and restores the overall quality of life.”
It’s been said that cutting back on certain foods like sugar, dairy, saturated and trans fats, alcohol, and refined carbs might reduce the inflammation, and therefore slow down the progress of the illness. Dr. Tarasevicius maintained that even though there is no diet that would completely prevent osteoarthritis, weight control helps to manage the disease.
“People who do not struggle with weight and have developed healthy eating habits are less likely to develop osteoarthritis. And if they undergo joint replacement surgery, the recovery is much faster during the postoperative period,” the surgeon said.
At the same time, exercising cannot stop the disease, but it can affect the well-being after surgical intervention. “Regular physical exercise strengthens the body and therefore allows it to heal much faster after joint replacement surgery,” Dr. Tarasevicius added. “The person is able to begin the recovery process which ultimately leads to the return of normal, pre-illness life.”