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Osteoarthritis

Also indexed as: Degenerative Arthritis, Degenerative Joint Disease, OA, Arthritis (Osteo)
Osteoarthritis: Main Image

About This Condition

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic disease of the joints, especially the weight-bearing joints that develops when the linings of joints degenerate, leading to lipping and spurring of bone, pain, and decreased mobility and function.

OA is a universal consequence of aging among animals with a bony skeleton. Many factors contribute to the development of OA; the disease is primarily associated with aging and injury and was once called “wear-and-tear” arthritis. OA may occur secondary to many other conditions. However, in most cases, the true cause of OA is unknown.

Symptoms

The onset of OA is gradual and most often affects the hips, knees, fingers, and spine, although other joints also may be involved. Pain is the main symptom, which usually worsens with exercise and is relieved by rest. Morning stiffness is also common and diminishes with movement. As OA progresses, joint motion is lost, and tenderness and grating sensations may develop. OA of the spine may lead to shooting pains down the arms or legs.

Healthy Lifestyle Tips

Obesity increases the risk of OA developing in weight-bearing joints, and weight loss in women is associated with reduced risk for developing OA. Weight loss is also thought to reduce the pain of existing OA.

Holistic Options

Several clinical trials have examined the efficacy of acupuncture for OA, with mixed results. Some trials found acupuncture treatment to be no more effective than either placebo or sham acupuncture at relieving osteoarthritis pain. Other trials have demonstrated a significant effect of acupuncture on the relief of OA pain compared to placebo. A well-designed trial found that acupuncture treatments (twice weekly for eight weeks) significantly improved pain and disability in people with OA of the knee compared to no treatment. When the group receiving no treatment was switched to acupuncture treatments, they experienced similar improvements.

In a controlled trial, a combination of manual physical therapy (by a qualified physical therapist) and supervised exercise significantly improved walking distance and pain in a group of people with OA of the knee. The therapeutic regimen consisted of manual therapy to the knee, low back, hip, and ankle as necessary, as well as a standardized knee-exercise program performed at home and in the clinic. The treatments were given twice weekly at the clinic for four weeks.



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Copyright © 2011 Aisle7.

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2013.

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