| Wed, Oct 15, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

Oh, My Aching Joints! It May be Osteoarthritis

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

osteoarthritisHave you ever felt like your bones were creaking or had your body stiffen up after you’ve been sitting awhile? It could be osteoarthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation®, osteoarthritis (OA) affects about 27 million Americans and is the most common form of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis sounds a lot like osteoporosis, but it’s a completely different disease. Whereas osteoporosis is the weakening of bones and bone loss, osteoarthritis is caused by the wearing down of cartilage between the joints. Osteoarthritis usually affects the joints in the hips, wrists, knees, fingers or vertebrae. Osteoarthritis may also affect the neck, the base of the thumb, ankle, and big toe. Other joints may be affected as well. However, just because you may have OA in one joint that doesn’t mean you’ll develop it in others.

Osteoarthritis symptoms usually develop gradually with some soreness, stiffness and swelling, particularly after a period of inactivity or overuse.  Pain may be moderate and come and go, without affecting the ability to perform daily tasks and without progressing past this early stage. Other people may experience symptoms that increase in severity, making it difficult to walk, climb stairs, sleep, or perform other daily tasks.

Who Gets Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis occurs most often in older people. Younger people with joint injuries can also get it. Other risk factors for OA include:

  • Adults ages 45 and older
  • Females
  • Being overweight
  • Joint injury
  • Stressed joints from certain professions or sports
  • Family history of osteoarthritis
  • People with other forms of arthritis, like gout or rheumatoid arthritis

Treatment Options

Just because there isn’t a cure for OA doesn’t mean you can’t lead an active, healthy lifestyle. Many people who undergo treatment for OA successfully improve their joint function and pain levels by exercising and losing weight to stay in shape, through physical therapy, and the use of splints, over-the-counter medication like aspirin or ibuprofen, or prescribed steroid medications. Some people may need to have surgery if their OA is severe.

If you’re in pain and suspect you may have osteoarthritis, make an appointment to see your doctor today.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.

Resources:

Bone and Joint Health National Awareness Week: Bone and Joint Initiative USA

What You Need to Know About Osteoarthritis: Arthritis Foundation

What is Osteoarthritis?: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

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