Know all about the treatment and diagnosis of osteoarthritis

It has been observed that nearly 10% to 15% of people over the age of 60 experience osteoarthritis of some form or the other. Women are more prone to this long-term chronic disease that results from a slow deterioration of cartilage in the joints. This causes friction between the bones and leads to pain, impaired movements, and pain. Osteoarthritis often occurs in the joints of the hands, shoulders, spine, hips, feet, and knee. A common result of aging, osteoarthritis can also be caused due to genetic history, trauma, bone density, obesity, occupational injury, the absence of physical activities, and so on. The treatment and diagnosis of osteoarthritis often depend on the affected area and the intensity of pain.

Diagnosis of osteoarthritis
Since the symptoms of osteoarthritis often overlap with those of other types of arthritis, doctors have to conduct multiple tests to devise proper treatment and diagnosis of osteoarthritis. This long-term chronic disease is classified under the category of degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease. A process of elimination is usually used by doctors to determine whether a person is suffering from osteoarthritis or not. The following are some ways used for the diagnosis of osteoarthritis:

  • Clinical history: This is the first step towards an accurate diagnosis. The patient has to describe the symptoms, the time when they first experienced the symptoms, what are the triggers of the symptoms, and whether the symptoms have undergone any change over time. A record of the patient’s medical history, previous medications, and a medical history of immediate family members will also be taken into account.
  • Physical examination: The patient’s’ muscle strength, reflexes, and general health will be checked by a doctor with physical checkups. A doctor will also examine the joints that the patient finds are troublesome. The physical examination will also include checking the patient’s ability to bend, walk, and carry out daily routine activities.
  • Imaging tests: Tests such as X-rays and MRIs are also used in the diagnosis of osteoarthritis. X-rays help to determine the extent of cartilage loss and the presence of bone spurs and bone damage in the affected joints. Although X-rays indicate the extent of joint damage, the severity of osteoarthritis and early osteoarthritis damage cannot be determined with this test. MRI scans are used to determine the extent of damage when X-rays do not give any conclusive results.

Treatment of osteoarthritis

Depending on the intensity of the pain and where osteoarthritis occurs, the treatment plan may vary for different patients. However, doctors do have the following common goals for every type of treatment of osteoarthritis:

  • Pain control
  • Joint function improvement
  • Bring body weight to normal
  • Healthy lifestyle

The following treatments for osteoarthritis are usually recommended:

  • Exercise: This includes muscle strengthening exercises, aerobic activities, range-of-motion activities, balance and agility exercises.
  • Weight control: For obese people, it is recommended to bring the body weight to normal levels. This will alleviate pressure on the joints, prevent joint injury, improve mobility, and prevent other health problems.
  • Alternative therapies: This includes heat and cold therapies, massages, acupuncture, and consuming nutritional supplements.
  • Surgery: When none of the other treatments work, a doctor may suggest surgery to replace the damaged joints with prostheses. This will provide relief from pain and allow more mobility.