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Which joints are susceptible to degeneration, effective ways to treat osteoarthritis?

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PT health Life – Osteoarthritis is a bone and joint disease closely related to age because this condition has a high incidence rate mainly in older people.

However, today osteoarthritis can occur in even young people, due to incorrect daily living habits. So, which joints are susceptible to degeneration and how to treat them?

When there are signs of osteoarthritis, you should immediately go to a medical facility for examination and treatment.

1. Risk factors for osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease caused by degenerative damage to cartilage tissue, subchondral bone and other cells and structures in joints and around joints . Lesions include: erosion of articular cartilage , tearing of articular cartilage, restructuring of subchondral bone, hypertrophy at the bone edge (growth of bone spurs), changes in the biochemical properties of the synovial membrane and joint capsule.

This is the most common bone and joint disease , closely related to age and the main cause of chronic pain, loss of mobility, reduced quality of life in the elderly, and damage to the the patient’s family finances, creating a burden on medical costs.

Osteoarthritis is a complex disease with two parallel processes: 

  • One is cartilage degeneration that gradually destroys the articular cartilage covering the bone surface, along with changes in bone structure.
  • Second, inflammation of paraarticular organizations plays an important role in the progression of osteoarthritis.

The first primary damage is to the articular cartilage, followed by damage to the subchondral bone, ligaments, paraarticular muscles and synovial membrane. Prolonged damage will lead to changes in the morphology of the entire joint and cause loss of joint function.

Factors that increase the risk of osteoarthritis:

  • Older age: The older you are, the stronger the aging phenomenon of organs, including joints.
  • Sex.
  • Genetic factors.
  • Fat .
  • Improper living and working posture.
  • Jobs and occupations require excessive joint movement.
  • Had previous joint disease.
  • There is trauma.
  • Congenital joint deformity.
  • Endocrine and metabolism: people with diabetes , gout, people with osteoporosis, postmenopausal women.

2. Joints are susceptible to osteoarthritis

  • Wrist and finger joints: More common in women than men, mainly due to previous joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, joint infections and joint injuries. Degeneration causes swelling and pain, causing the fingers to become rough and slightly curved.
  • Knee joint: Knee osteoarthritis progresses silently for many years without symptoms. The first symptom is usually knee pain. The patient has difficulty squatting and standing up. In more severe cases, the patient will experience numbness in the legs and deformity of the knee joint.
  • Cervical spine : When cervical spine degeneration will cause pain in the back of the neck, neck area, spreading to the shoulder blades and arms.
  • Lumbar spine: If there is degeneration of the lumbar spine, it will cause pain in the waist, hips, and numbness in the legs when sitting in one position for a long time. Lumbar spondylosis affects the sciatic nerve, causing pain from the back to the thighs and legs.
  • Hip joint: The patient will then feel deep pain in the front of the groin, on the side or front of the thigh, behind the buttocks and spreading to the knee.
  • Ankle and metatarsal joints: Osteoarthritis of the ankle and metatarsal joints is common in people over 40 years old, or have jobs that require a lot of use of the ankles such as athletes, football players… The disease progresses. slowly, with initial symptoms that are vague and difficult to recognize.
    In the severe stage, the patient will feel pain in the ankle joint, feel heavy and less flexible when moving. Sharp pain comes when the patient exerts effort or directly impacts the damaged joint area.
It is necessary to lose weight in obese people to help prevent more severe osteoarthritis.

3. What to do when you have osteoarthritis?

When there are signs of joint degeneration, we must lose weight if we are overweight or obese. Losing weight, controlling weight through diet and exercise, losing 10% of body weight (about 0.5-1 kg/week) helps improve joint mobility. Limit fatty, sweet, fried foods, don’t eat much in the evening, eat lots of vegetables and fruits, and increase physical activity time.

Many people think that exercising will make the pain caused by the disease worse, increasing the risk of joint stiffness. However, regular exercise that keeps you moving, builds muscle, and strengthens your joints often improves symptoms. Physical training is also a great aid for losing weight, adjusting posture, reducing stress and especially effectively improving symptoms.

It can be said that this is the most important treatment method for people with degenerative arthritis. Recommended exercises include a combination of activities that help strengthen muscles and improve fitness.

Patients should talk to their doctor or physical therapist to have an exercise plan to follow at home. The training process needs to follow the given plan to avoid incorrect exercises that can negatively affect the joints.

Knee braces, back braces, elbow braces, foot pads or axial correction shoes can be used, which are highly effective in cases of joint axis misalignment deformity. To relieve pain, applying hot or cold compresses to joints can reduce the pain and symptoms of osteoarthritis in some people.

It is necessary to change working conditions and bad habits to reduce prolonged pressure on joint cartilage and spinal discs, maintain a youthful, healthy lifestyle, and exercise regularly.

In cases where medication must be used, the doctor will prescribe some painkillers that may be recommended by the doctor in treatment to improve symptoms. The type of pain medication will depend on the severity of the pain and other health conditions or problems the person has.

Joint replacement may be considered in some patients. Joint replacement helps reduce pain and restore joint mobility in patients with osteoarthritis, most commonly hip and knee replacement.

Joint replacement is joint reconstruction surgery. During joint replacement surgery, the doctor will remove the damaged joint and replace it with an artificial joint made of special biomedical materials. The lifespan of an artificial joint can last 15-20 years or more.

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