Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease that involves changes to the joints. The factors resulting in the breakdown of cartilage in the joint occur more quickly than those that rebuild and repair it. Any joint in the body can be affected. Therefore, the disease can develop anywhere, from hands and feet to knees and hips. Depending on which part of the body is affected by the disease and how it occurred, osteoarthritis can have different names. If the osteoarthritis is a result of a previous injury, it is usually called post-traumatic osteoarthritis. If the osteoarthritis sufferer has several joints affected by the disease it is called generalized osteoarthritis.
What does generalized osteoarthritis mean?
Anyone affected by osteoarthritis can go for a very long time without experiencing any symptoms. This is because the disease develops gradually and stealthily. It is also common for those affected to think that the joint pain and stiffness are naturally to do with getting older. At the same time, many people believe that there is nothing they can do about it. But if you suspect that you are affected by osteoarthritis, you should seek help as soon as possible and have a diagnosis made so that you can start treatment.
Read more about how osteoarthritis is diagnosed.
To be given the diagnosis of generalized osteoarthritis, you would usually have at least three joints in the body that are affected. This could be, for instance, the spine, knee and hips. The best treatment for osteoarthritis is physical activity involving personalized exercises. Initially, it can be painful supporting yourself with aching, stiff joints. In the long run, exercise has proven to be the most effective form of pain relief. During the very worst periods, pain-relieving pills can be used as a complementary treatment. However, pills should never be seen as a permanent solution.
What happens in the case of generalized osteoarthritis?
Generalized osteoarthritis means that the cartilage in several joints is slowly breaking down. In the early stages, you don’t see anything on the outside of the joint. But when you’ve had osteoarthritis for a long time, the joint becomes so broken down that it doesn’t fit properly anymore. The body then generates additional bone, which means that it will become rougher and may become warped on the outside.
When the joint is modified and the cartilage becomes worn down, it will become more difficult to use the joint as the friction in it increases. This makes the joint stiffer, mainly when you go to move after sitting for a while. Therefore, without treatment, there is a risk of the joint becoming stiff in the long term and losing the ability to move.
This is why it is important for anyone affected by the disease to think about exercising the joint and practicing a new, better loading pattern for the damaged joint. This can be achieved by shifting the focus to strengthening the cartilage in the joint and the surrounding muscles. The load being exerted on the joint must not be harmful.
What to do if you suspect you have generalized osteoarthritis
If you suspect that you are affected by generalized osteoarthritis, you should contact your health center. A doctor or physiotherapist can make a diagnosis based on your medical history, combined with a clinical examination. Very often other generalized joint diseases can be excluded, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or polymyalgia rheumatica, known as muscular rheumatism. If it turns out that you have osteoarthritis, there is help available. Exercise is the main action taken when it comes to treating osteoarthritis. If anyone affected by the disease wants to get tips and advice about what exercises are best for their individual case, they can contact a physiotherapist.
In today’s modern society, those affected by osteoarthritis don’t need to look for a physiotherapist themselves to get help, but can receive care at home. Using the Joint Academy app, you can get in touch with an orthopedic specialist or physiotherapist immediately by phone and be given a personal exercise program to follow. You then do the exercises on your own, but check in with the physiotherapist at regular intervals to talk about objectives, progress, and to see that everything is working properly.