This is the most common form of arthritis, affecting about 21 million Americans. In OA, the cartilage in the effected joint(s) breaks
down, resulting in joint pain and swelling. OA typically progresses in multiple phases, beginning with a loss of cartilage
elasticity. This loss of elasticity means that the cartilage is more easily damaged by injury or overuse. When the cartilage
begins to break down, the bone in the affected joint thickens and bone spurs develop. Bits of bone or cartilage may be found
floating in the space between the bones of the joint. At this point, the breakdown of the cartilage causes the lining of the
joint to become inflamed. In reaction to the inflammation, the body produces proteins and enzymes that cause additional damage to the joint.
In OA, affected joints typically hurt the most after periods of inactivity or after periods of overuse. OA can affect the middle
and end joints of the fingers, the knees, the hips, the neck, and the spine. This disease usually starts after the age of 40 and
develops slowly over a period of years. With OA, joint redness and swelling are usually minimal and morning stiffness is usually
sort in duration. People with OA generally do not experience a general feeling of sickness due to the disease.
Risk factors for OA include heredity, obesity, weak muscles, injury, overuse, and aging. Managing OA consists of engaging in activities
and behaviors that are aimed at counteracting some of these risk factors. Physical or occupational therapy may be used, aerobic
exercise along with plenty of stretching is often very helpful, as is maintaining a healthy weight. Medications typically used
in the treatment of OA include pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and glucocorticoid injections. A class of medication
known as hyaluronic acids may also be used to lubricate and cushion the affected joints.
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»Arthritis Centers of Texas is currently conducting clinical research for individuals
with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. If you or someone you know is interested in additional information about
these studies, please contact our Clinical Research Department at (214) 823-6503, extension 234.
Participation in Clinical Research Studies is completely voluntary.
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