Osteoarthritis may be one of the most common chronic diseases. There are over three million cases in the United States each year. If you’re one of the many, many people to be diagnosed with this joint condition, don’t despair. With prudent self-care, osteoarthritis can be a very manageable condition. There are various ways to treat osteoarthritis, ranging from medications to natural, non-invasive remedies.
What is Osteoarthritis?
So what is osteoarthritis? This condition, which is also referred to as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease, occurs when the cartilage between joints wears down over time. This causes friction and stiffness in the joint, which leads to pain and swelling. In healthy joints, the cartilage provides a smooth and soft padding that protects the bones and eases the motion of the joints. The more that a joint has been used, the more likely it is to develop osteoarthritis. For that reason, osteoarthritis is most common in people over the age of 65. However, a person of any age can be diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Factors such as obesity, the overuse of a joint, and previous joint injuries can increase the likelihood of osteoarthritis.
Beginning Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
One in every two adults will notice symptoms of osteoarthritis at some point. These most commonly include stiffness, particularly after moments of stillness, as well as swelling and pain. Osteoarthritis can develop in any joint, but most people notice it in the hips, knees, fingers, toes, and lower back.
Getting an Osteoarthritis Diagnosis
To get properly diagnosed with osteoarthritis, you will need to see a medical professional. They will ask you questions about your medical history as well as your family’s medical history, and will perform a physical exam. An X-ray or MRI may also be in order. After an exam and diagnosis, a doctor may prescribe medications like pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicines.
Natural Treatments for Osteoarthritis
However, there are natural ways to treat osteoarthritis, too. If you suspect that you may have osteoarthritis, you can try these treatments as a means of relief without needing the advice of a medical professional. These natural treatments are safe and effective, and often work to address the cause of the osteoarthritic pain instead of just treating the pain.
Best Ways to Treat Osteoarthritis
First of all, one of the best ways to treat osteoarthritis is actually by using the joints that hurt. Staying active can be very challenging when a person is suffering from osteoarthritis. And yet, the more one stays still, the stiffer the joints will become and the more pain there will be. Strengthening exercises around the affected area will take some of the pressure off of the joints. Range of motion exercises will help with flexibility. Plus, regular exercise will help a person maintain a healthy weight, which is another important way to treat osteoarthritis.
Using TENS for Osteoarthritis Pain Relief
If the pain and stiffness you’re experiencing from osteoarthritis feels like it's too much to bear while exercising, electrotherapy like TENS can be a useful tool. Portable, wireless devices like iReliev’s TENS device can actually be worn during exercise. TENS is great for treating osteoarthritic pain. Using it to relieve pain while mobile can help you exercise to target the source of the osteoarthritis.
Some patients also see a professional physical therapist for their osteoarthritis. A physical therapist may also employ TENS electrotherapy as a means of pain relief. They will also be able to help guide a person in stretches and exercises that will target a specific joint. With some careful research as well as trial and error, you may find your own combination of these natural treatments that will bring you relief from your osteoarthritis.