If you've just been diagnosed with osteoarthritis (OA), you're not alone. Many women
past age 50 discover OA is the reason for their creaking knees, aching backs,
and sore fingers. Suddenly life is all about osteoarthritis -- but luckily, arthritis doesn't have to take control.
Arthritis is "the most common form of disability. It's also a natural
part of aging," says Primal Kaur, MD, director of the
Osteoporosis Clinic at Temple University School of Medicine in
As you age, your chance of developing osteoarthritis, which is caused by wear and tear, increases. The joint damage associated with osteoarthritis causes swelling, pain, and deformity. Here is information about how osteoarthritis affects the foot and ankle and information you can use to help you manage this debilitating condition.
In the U.S., one in five adults has osteoarthritis -- 24 million women and
17 million men, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
"I'm constantly telling people that the body is like a car, so there's
going to be wear and tear as we grow older," Kaur, an arthritis specialist,
tells WebMD. Men typically feel the onset earlier in life than women do, she
says. "But after age 55, more women than men will develop it -- and women
often have it more severely."
All About Osteoarthritis: What's Going On Here?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition that affects cartilage, the rubbery
cushion covering bones in the joints, keeping them flexible. Over time,
cartilage begins to stiffen and damages more easily -- and gradually it loses
its "shock absorber" qualities. Bones start rubbing against each other,
and the pain begins.
Women tend to be plagued by osteoarthritis more than men. Heredity increases
the risk: A genetic defect triggering defective cartilage or a joint
abnormality can lead to osteoarthritis. "If your mom had knobby fingers,
you're more likely to develop arthritis there," says Kaur.
Other risk factors are involved: Obesity puts extra stress on knees and hips,
which leads to cartilage breakdown. A sports injury, severe back injury, or
broken bone takes a toll on the joints -- and pretty soon, it's all about
"Pain is the symptom that gets everyone's attention," Kaur tells
13 Tips: Rein in Your Osteoarthritis Pain
Your life doesn't have to be all about osteoarthritis. There's much you can
do to enjoy a better quality of life. By learning about your disease -- and
making some changes -- you can live well.
1. Lose Weight. If you are overweight or obese, you're
putting extra stress on weight-bearing joints. Losing weight lessens the risk
of further joint injury. It also increases your mobility.