OSTEOARTHRITIS: What You Need to Know

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: May 26, 2010

Suddenly, many baby boomers discover it’s difficult to get up out of bed due to joint aches. You may be attributing this to old age and may not be aware of a condition known as osteoarthritis (OA).

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a disease that affects the joints in the body. In these joints, the cartilage that covers the end of the bones begins to wear down causing bone to rub against bone. Often, people with this condition feel pain and stiffness upon arising in the morning, but they begin to feel better after they start moving around. It is important to know that if OA is not treated, it can lead to disability. In fact, it is the second leading cause of disability in the US.

There are many different types of OA, affecting different joints — the knees, hips, spine and big toes. OA in the knee is the most common, followed by in the hip. Women are more typically afflicted than men and together, 10-20% of people over age 65 suffer from OA often experiencing major pain, which may lead to disability.

OA of the knee is typically found to affect both knees and most sufferers begin to experience problems around the age of 50. Being overweight or having nodal osteoarthritis of the knee increases the risk.

There are many additional factors that can increase the risk which include:

Age: OA usually starts in the late 40’s and continues into old age.

Our Sex: The disease is more prevalent and severe in women, especially if you are past menopause. African American women have more knee OA than Caucasian women.

Obesity: Extra weight puts more pressure in your joints, this is an important factor in causing OA and worsening the symptoms after it develops.

Injury to the Joint: Contrary to belief, recreational sports do not increase the likelihood of getting OA. In fact, exercise is good and does not cause OA. However, repetitive activity may injure joints, like heavy lifting. Often people with physically demanding jobs may develop the condition; and of course, let’s not forget those in the sports profession, like football players.

Heredity: There is a common form that runs in families known as nodal osteoarthritis which particularly affects the hands of middle-aged women.

What are the symptoms?

Stiff and painful joints are the main symptoms. Pain is usually worse after exercising. There may be stiffness after resting. This particularly happens in the morning upon arising, and then gets better after you get the joints moving again. Often you may hear creaking sounds when the joints are moved. Symptoms may vary from one individual to the other, and there may be periods of time when symptoms do not prevail. Some people may also be bothered by changes in the weather. There may be swelling to the joints and the range of motion may be reduced.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, visit your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will provide you with information on treatments which may include: Weight management (maintaining an ideal weight) which is extremely important for your joints; Exercise (strengthening and aerobic); Physical Therapy; Drug Therapy; and Surgery.

Remember, OA is not just a condition that marks our age. We should have knowledge about this common condition and the variety of ways to permanently treat it.

TOTAL KNEE REPLACEMENT: COMMON PERCEPTIONS DON’T REFLECT REALITY

Women today are nothing if not demanding — we want to remain active and fight aging in any way we can. Yet when it comes to knee pain from osteoarthritis — a disease affecting approximately 12 million American women — we often resort to acceptance over action. In fact, many of us choose years of conservative care (physical therapy, drugs, injections) to lessen, but not eliminate, our joint pain.

“The mistaken perception is that age must be a deciding factor in determining who is a candidate for knee replacement,” explains Dr. Chitranjan S. Ranawat, M.D. of Ranawat Orthopaedic Center at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “The reality is that TKR is not age dependent. If you are in pain doing everyday activities like walking or climbing stairs, limiting activity in your life due to knee pain, or constantly taking anti-inflammatory drugs, you are a potential knee replacement candidate. By waiting, you are letting the bone that will serve as the foundation for the implant deteriorate, which may reduce your chances of regaining full functionality. Having the procedure sooner rather than later can allow you to get back to the life that you want quicker.”

So why are most TKR surgeries performed on patients over 65 years old? In large part, TKR is still reserved for older patients due to misperceptions about the performance of artificial knees. Today, improved technologies have revolutionized knee replacements, allowing more patients to seek treatment options sooner. A Rotating Platform knee is the only type of knee replacement that bends and rotates, offering more natural movement. And studies show that even after 20 years, more than 97 percent of the implants are still in use. For those who are no longer achieving pain relief from physical therapy, weight control or prescription medications for osteoarthritis, TKR offer an alternative.

The rotating platform knee implant more closely mimics the motion of a natural knee, allowing it to slightly twist and turn, move back and forth, as well as flex and extend. As the only rotating platform knee implant available in the U.S., it is unique in that it spreads weight-bearing over the largest area possible, reducing stresses in the knee.

“After years of neglecting a painful knee problem, my orthopedic surgeon and I decided it was time for surgery,” explained Collette Brunot-Shugerts, 63, a police officer in Conneaut, Ohio. “Following a successful knee replacement surgery, I worked diligently in physical therapy and in six weeks was back to work and enjoying my life again. Today, my only wish is that I had done it sooner.”

The performance of knee replacements depends on age, activity level, and other factors. There are potential risks and recovery takes time. People with current infections, or conditions limiting rehabilitation should not have this surgery. You may experience implant complications such as loosening, fracturing, or wearing of the components, which could result in pain, stiffness or dislocation of the joint. Only an orthopaedic surgeon can tell if knee replacement is right for you.

To learn more about total knee replacement and the rotating platform knee, or to locate an orthopaedic surgeon near you, visit kneereplacement.com or call 888-273-9029.

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