Osteoarthritis primarily affects the cartilage, even if the entire joint can ultimately be changed. Since cartilage is a part in all the joints in our body, any of our joints can be affected by osteoarthritis. The disease is the most common in the knees and hips, but can also develop in smaller joints, such as fingers and toes. The spine and neck can also be affected. Here, we dive deeper in what happens when specific joints are affected by osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis in the knees and hips
The two most common forms of osteoarthritis are hip and knee osteoarthritis. This is due to several factors, but the common denominator for both of these joints is that they carry a large part of the body weight. More strain on the joint means a higher risk of the cartilage in the joint breaking down. The good news is that this can be prevented with exercise. By strengthening the muscles around the specific joints, negative strain can be prevented. At the same time, the cartilage is stimulated to repair itself.
The best way of treating hip and knee osteoarthritis is with exercises that are specifically designed for the individual. This should be combined with information about how the disease can be managed in everyday life. To get this kind of treatment, you can see a licensed physical therapist or download the app Joint Academy. For overweight individuals, weight control may be necessary to reduce the strain on the joints. The last resort, which is only necessary for a minority, is prosthetic surgery.
Osteoarthritis in different joints
If the spine is affected by osteoarthritis, surgery is usually not an option. In this case, exercise is the only treatment that works. Pain-relieving medications can be used when needed, but since they don’t actually affect the disease itself, they should not be considered an efficient treatment. Even osteoarthritis in the hands and feet can be treated with specific exercises. You can get help with this from a physical therapist.