Everything changes over time, including your joints. Moving around -- running, jumping, kneeling, climbing stairs, and all your other activities -- is great for your body. But over time, you wear down your cushioning cartilage leaving bone rubbing painfully against bone. When joint cartilage erodes, joints become stiff, swollen, painful, and arthritic.
There are many types of arthritis, and osteoarthritis -- the “wear and tear” kind -- is by far the most common.. It becomes more common with age, and it can also occur if you are overweight.
Osteoarthritis (OA) causes joint pain and stiffness for 27 million Americans. Although there are many medications and treatments to ease OA symptoms, many patients with severe OA decide to have joint replacement surgery. In fact, nearly 700,000 Americans undergo hip or knee replacement each year. Another 23,000 have shoulder replacement surgery.
Osteoarthritis can be treated. Medications and lifestyle changes won't cure your joint problems, but they can relieve your pain and help your knees, wrists, hips, and shoulders move better.
Simple Ways to Protect Your Joints
Two of the best things you can do for your joints don’t need a prescription.
Your weight could have a big effect on how you feel. Losing extra pounds takes pressure off your joints. Although there is no single “osteoarthritis diet,” it’s good for your whole body to favor lean protein, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthier fats.
You’ll also want to get regular exercise. It strengthens the muscles around your joints, and there are plenty of choices (like swimming, biking, yoga, or hiking) that are easy on your body.
Talk to your doctor about what’s OK for you to do and whether physical therapy would help.
Easy Home Remedies: A heating pad or cold pack can feel really good on achy joints. Use whichever one feels better unless you have an injury, in which case cold is best for the first couple of days.
You can apply cold or heat several times a day. Just remember to cover the cold pack with a towel and keep your heating pad at a low setting to avoid burning your skin. Whether you use heat or cold, remove it after 20 to 30 minutes.
Most people who are looking for osteoarthritis pain relief first turn to a group of medications known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Some of these drugs, including ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin, are available over the counter. Stronger NSAIDs need a prescription.