Arthrosis is a condition that usually occurs as a result of the tendency of the joints. Regardless of whether you are suffering from (or will suffer from) arthrosis, its appearance depends on a number of factors, such as age and whether you have excessively worn our one or more joints in sports or recreation.
Arthrosis most commonly affects the joints that carry more weight – mostly the hip, knee or spine – in the elderly. Arthrosis occurs when the cartolage (smooth elastic tissue located at the end of bones) begins to sag and snap at the point of contact because of excessive wearing out, injury or some other reason. Due to the collapse of the cartilage, the bone (under the cartilage) weakens and can be thickened and distorted. The movement becomes painful and limited and with it, unused muscles that otherwise move the joint are also decaying.
Arthrosis should not be confused with rheumatoid arthritis. Likewise, the terms “arthritis” and “rheumatism”, although often used, do not have a precise medical meaning, so it is best to avoid them.
The onset of pain, swelling and stiffness of the affected wrist occur at intervals, for months or years. Although arthrosis often affects several joints, it usually causes symptoms in only one or two wrists. In some cases, the pain, which begins as a minor disturbance, can be intensified over time to interfere with sleep and everyday life. Finally, the joint degenerates and, with stiffening, hurts less.
The swelling of affected joints can vary; sometimes you do not even notice them, and sometimes it can be swollen. Pain often varies, too. You can feel the pain directly in the joint, but sometimes it can also be “transmitted” so it may seem like another part of the body hurts. For example, in hip arthrosis, your knee will hurt the most.
Arthrosis is the most common joint disorder, mainly because it is naturally associated with the aging process. If you live long, you can be sure you get it in some joints (although you do not even have to know it). X-ray images show some degree of arthrosis in one or more joints at 9 to 10 people after the age of 40. However, arthrosis rarely becomes a serious discomfort and is almost never life-threatening.
Some professions and sports are closely related to the development of arthrosis. For example, many ballet dancers are getting it in their feet because of long-time dancing on the tip of their fingers. Soccer and rugby players are known for their knee problems (generally known as “meniscus”).
What to do?
You do not have to worry if you sometimes feel the pain or stiffness of your wrist. If the symptoms start to cause interference, try the self-help measures we recommend (below). Contact your doctor, if necessary, who will, after the examination, refer you to blood tests and X-ray recording of the affected joint (or joints). If your blood tests do not show anything out of normal, you may be suffering from arthrosis, and not from serious illness such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Self-help: for obvious reasons, wearing off of joints will be the strongest in obese people. Lose some weight and, wth that, you will reduce the pressure on your joints. If you are too fat, walk with a stick, take breaks often and sleep on a hard bed. Heat your joints because heat generally relieves pain in the joints. You must not allow the unused muscles around your arthritic joint to weaken. Regular exercises will strengthen them and finally reduce the symptoms to a minimum. In addition to occasional doses of aspirin or panadone, you should take only the pain medications prescribed by your doctor. Avoid prescription medicines, which make wonders in advertisements, and just listen to your doctor.
Professional help: your doctor may prescribe a stronger pain relief. Some anti-inflammatory drugs relieve the symptoms, although it is not known why. If the pain increases, the injection of corticosteroids into the painful wrist will help you, but this type of treatment can further damage the articular cartilage if it is used too often. Your physician may also refer you to physical therapy that usually involves exercise and heat treatment (thermotherapy).
The operation of damaged joint is sometimes feasible and advisable. The most common surgery (mainly in people with hip arthrosis) is the joint replacement. Hip replacement proved successful in 90% of operative cases.
If you are interested in whether a change in nutrition may have a beneficial effect on arthrosis, the answer is very simple: just eat the food that will help you lose weight. However, the problems will not be reduced with variety of diets that leave out some kinds of food or some chemical substance. There are other ways of treatment, even though none of them guarantee success, such as acupuncture, wearing a special, so-called thermal insulating clothing and regular swimming in hot water pools. The fact is that there is no miracle cure. If you have arthritic pain due to natural joint degeneration, ordinary pain medications (aspirin) should help relieve your symptoms.
Do not forget that there are many home appliances and other aids for people who have become disabled due to chronic illnesses such as arthrosis. They include handrails for the bathroom and bedroom, special cutlery and cooking utensils, and specially designed chairs.