A third of patients who turn to a doctor for help complain of back and joint pain, statistics say. One of the most common health problems is osteoarthritis. The main characteristic of osteoarthritis is the destruction of cartilage. The consequence of cartilage destruction is the difficulty of performing movements with pain or complete stiffness of the joints.
The small joints of the hands, spine and joints on which the body rests (hips, knees and feet) are most commonly affected by this condition. The fingers can be painful and swollen with the appearance of bony bumps on the fingers. This phenomenon is more common in women than in men. Diseased joints react to changes in atmospheric pressure and weather conditions. They react painfully to movements even after movement. A genetic factor plays a role in the appearance of this problem. Most often, this phenomenon is a combination of several adverse effects. Increased stress, exposure to adverse weather conditions, frequent repetition of the same movements, improper posture, some fatty and spicy foods, excessive alcohol use, immobility and ignoring existing joint problems are elements whose combined effect leads to worsening of the condition.
Certain types of improperly or untreated infections can lead to permanent damage to the joints. The success of treatment depends on the early detection of degenerative changes. X-rays register advanced changes. It is used to monitor the development of the disease. Magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound can detect the disease at an early stage. Many patients, however, ignore the initial changes, wasting valuable time. The optimal reaction time is 6 months. After this period the changes become irreversible.
Ibuprofen and acetylsalicylic acid have shown good effects in the control of painful conditions. The doctor should assess the severity of the current condition and prescribe therapy. Serious conditions are treated with cortisone injections and giving a blockade that reduces pain along with medications that reduce joint swelling. Surgical solutions are applied if other therapies have not yielded results.
The best protection of the joints is their regular use. Moderate exercise and daily movement contribute to the mobility of the joints and strengthen the muscles that provide additional support. The physiatrist prescribes exercises and protective positions which slow down the progression of the disease and eliminate its unpleasant symptoms. Maintaining a normal body weight is important. The use of walkers and walking sticks contributes to additional relief.