Osteoarthritis: Fast Facts

  • Lifestyle changes such as weight loss and use of assistive devices (such as jar openers, shower benches or canes) may help people in certain situations.
  • Some people use nutritional supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, in an effort to relieve the pain from OA. However, research on their effectiveness has produced mixed results, and they are not inspected or regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • If a joint is seriously deteriorated, surgery to fuse bones together or replace the affected joint may have to be performed.
  • Diagnosis of OA typically begins with a physical examination and a doctor's review of your medical history, with special focus placed on any arthritic conditions that run in your family, previous injuries or surgeries, and how you tend to use the joints.
  • Laboratory tests cannot diagnose OA. However, various blood tests may be used to rule out other kinds of arthritis or other similar conditions.
  • Physical therapy or occupational therapy may help your OA by improving your flexibility, strength, endurance, range of motion, balance and function. Improvement in these areas may help reduce the symptoms of OA and prevent further deterioration.
  • Physical therapists can also provide assistive devices to stabilize the joint and make it easier to move. Examples include braces, canes, walkers and electric power lifts.
  • Occupational therapists (OTs) offer instruction in joint protection and energy conservation, make splints and give recommendations on ways to execute daily tasks more easily, such as dressing, bathing and household chores.
  • Factors that increase your risk for developing OA include advanced age, excess weight, heredity, joint injury, sex (being female) and certain medical conditions.

Reviewed By: Vikas Garg, M.D., MSA

 

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