Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder in the world, affecting about 1 out of 4 people over the age of 45 in Sweden. The symptoms often come on stealthily and are characterized by aching caused by strress and stiffness after rest. Depending on what part of the body that is affected, swelling, redness, and soreness can also occur. The disorder develops to a greater extent in specific groups (for example top-level athletes,those with certain physical occupations, and overweight people). But people who do not belong to these groups can also be affected. Read more about risk factors here.
The disease always causes a breakdown of cartilage, regardless of which joint is affected. However, this breakdown can look different depending which the joint that is affected. In the case of knee joint osteoarthritis, mobility can be impaired and the joint can feel stiff. In the case of osteoarthritis in the fingers, nodules can appear on the middle joints, and swelling and aching pain is common. Some deformation of the fingers can also occur as a consequence of it, but many people who are affected by the disease can still live an active life. With the correct treatment, everyday life is painless for most people.
Underlying causes – is osteoarthritis hereditary?
Studies show that heredity is a factor in the development of osteoarthritis. Up to 50% of those who have a close relative with the disease are at risk of being affected themselves. But it’s not a guarantee, since there are several other factors involved, such as previous injuries and long-term, monotonous stress. Being overweight and carrying body weight the muscles can’t support is also a risk factor.
How Does Osteoarthritis and Rheumatism Occur?
Rheumatism is an umbrella term for degenerative changes in the joints. The term ‘rheumatism’ comprises a number of different diagnoses which all share symptoms like aching and stiff joints. The most common diagnoses are rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, arthritis , fibromyalgia, and psoriatic arthritis. Suffering from rheumatism is often associated with long-term stiffness, joint inflammation, and pain. Today, there is well-developed care that can support, relieve, and slow down the development of rheumatism.
The person suffering from osteoarthritis may have a problem for the rest of their life. Therefore, it is extremely important to learn how to deal with the symptoms. A physiotherapist can help with customized exercise which has a positive effect on the disease. According to the National Board of Health and Welfare, movement and exercise is particularly important for those who suffer from joint diseases because of the positive effects.
Preventing the development of osteoarthritis after trauma
In some cases, the disease can develop as a result of an injury. This is known as post-traumatic osteoarthritis. Common injuries connected to an increased risk of developing the disease are injuries to the cruciate ligament, a strike to the shoulder, or hurting the hip in a fall. Such injuries may, at a later stage, give rise to discomfort and speed up the development of the joint disease. Post-traumatic osteoarthritis is the same disease as just osteoarthritis, and is treated accordingly. The disease also comes with the same symptoms .
The reason the disease develops depends on several factors, and one which has been previously mentioned is heredity. A lifestyle with little movement or monotonous movements is also responsible for the development of the disease. Age is not a risk factor in itself, but an older person who has a joint which has been subjected to one or several risk factors for a long period of time can be at increased risk. Other causes that may be the reason for the disease is overloading the joint due to heavy work, top-level sports, joint injuries, and, in some cases, being overweight.
The person that is affected by Osteoarthritis can, by the help of different exercises, get rid of all painful symptoms and return to a normal life again. It is supervised and long-term exercise that is the key to recovery. When those affected by the disease combine an active lifestyle with information about the disease and choose a healthier diet, a lot of them notice differences both in increased well-being and reduced pain after a number of weeks.