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Jul 2, 2009

Healthy Living looks at the causes of osteoarthritis

Story PictureArthritis is a condition that affects more women than men for different reasons and in many forms. But it is generally the wear and tear of the joints and spine. This edition of Healthy Living looks at osteoarthritis.

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting
There are over a hundred different types of arthritis, all of which have different causes and risk factors. Some of the more common types include rheumatoid arthritis, gout and the basic wear and tear of the joints, osteoarthritis also known as degenerative osteoarthritis.

Dr. Francis Smith, Orthopedic Surgeon
“It’s very important for people to understand that there are different kinds of arthritis. So the term arthritis is just a general term and you have to distinguish among all the different kinds of arthritis and there are very many. In general you may say arthritis involves all your joints, wear and tear of your joints and your spine. There are basically two kinds of degenerative osteoarthritis; primary or idiopathic which is medical jargon meaning we don’t know why you get it and secondary.”

Secondary osteoarthritis is the result of a chronic or sudden injury to a joint, including sports and occupational injuries. Osteoarthritis can occur at any joint and is caused by the wearing out of the cartilage or gristle that covers the end of the bones.

Dr. Francis Smith
“A normal joint would have gristle or cartilage covering the bony surface and with arthritis this cartilage or gristle wears out. Older persons your muscles begin to waste away; it loses its firmness and its strength, it doesn’t provide enough support for the ligaments around the joint. After that then the gristle starts wearing out usually that’s accompanied by fluid buildup inside the joint because in all your joints you have synovial fluid. If you don’t have enough muscle support for your joints then there’s excess synovial fluid production and the knee start getting swollen and warm. You know that as a water knee. The diagnosis is made basically on clinical grounds. We’d notice a middle age person coming in complaining of pain in more than one joint. We’d immediately think wear and tear especially if there are other features like being overweight or secondary causes like jogging for years, especially if that person is not in shape trying to lose weight.”

But age and obesity are not the only risk factors associated with osteoarthritis. Women experience arthritis more frequently than men and some congenital conditions contribute to the early development of arthritis. The type of work you do also plays a role.

Dr. Francis Smith
“Otherwise, as well you’d have to consider occupational factors meaning simple sitting around a desk, book keepers, lawyers people working around computers develop arthritis in the neck in the lower back, arthritis in the shoulder. It really takes a toll; it affects the work force tremendously. It can’t be cured but you can get away from osteoarthritis if you simple watch your diet maintain weight and maintain proper muscle tone by exercising. If you’re overweight you probably don’t want to be jogging. You don’t want to be beating up your joints so we would prefer to recommend quadriceps strengthening exercises knee extensions to build quadriceps. You want to be doing some weights for your upper limbs, you want to be doing especially stretches to keep your ligaments and you limbs stretchable because then they don’t tear so easily.”

And as a tip to cope with the pain, just think RICE

Dr. Francis Smith
“Usually if it’s just insipient osteoarthritis, just beginning usually they say just RICE the limb. Rest; get off it, Ice it; chip ice put it in a plastic bag and you apply it over the region fifteen to twenty minutes on and off as often as you can. The C would be compression and elastic bandage or the cylindrical type knee support that you put on and E would be for elevation. We’re seeing people in their twenties terribly overweight already with degenerative joint disease. So of course, it’s important that they realize that this is happening and they take precautionary measures. So someone that age could perhaps lose weight and halt the advance of the disease.”

The basic idea is take charge of it before it takes charge of you.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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