Although arthritis usually strikes older people, osteoarthritis can affect anyone at any age. The reason it’s usually associated with older people is that they have put in more time on their bones due to their age. But a if a younger person pushed his body excessively, he is also at risk for osteoarthritis and all of its complications.
Osteoarthritis: What is it?
Joint bones are cushioned by cartilage, a soft tissue that provides some “grease” between the bones so they don’t rub against each other but manage together smoothly. When there’s tremendous wear and tear on the joints, the cartilage wears away slowly, and the bones don’t have the smooth cushion to act as a softener between the bones.
What are the symptoms?
Unfortunately, the symptoms of osteoarthritis are usually very pronounced, the most noticeable being pain. The area may feel tender to the touch. Other symptoms include a grating sensation at the joint, stiffness, and less flexibility.
These begin to happen as the disease builds. If it gets to the point when all of the cartilage degenerates, the bones begin to rub against each other, which can become tremendously painful and incapacitating.
Why does it happen?
Osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints, and it takes places when there is excessive wear and tear on the joints. It’s more likely to occur in the older population, particularly if someone is overweight. The extra weight tends to overwhelm the joints, which cannot carry the burden.
It can also happen to athletes who put in grueling hours and overstress their joints. While exercise is obviously extremely beneficial physically and important to stay healthy and fit, strenuous workouts can cause unwanted outcomes. Overstressing the joints when you’re young can bring on osteoarthritis more quickly.
Can cartilage regrow?
Cartilage may regrow, but due to its makeup, it doesn’t regenerate as easily as other kinds of body tissue. If there’s a weight problem, the mass weighs down the joints. The cartilage begins to sag outside of the joint, and any regrowth only occurs outside of the joint. So no one should count on ruining their joints and imagining that the body will simply repair itself.
When to see a doctor
As with most health issues, patients usually wait until the pain is unbearable before they seek help. But this is a mistake. When the problem is diagnosed early enough, the patient may be able to make changes to his lifestyle that can slow down or turn around the condition. If he stops stressing the joints, the cartilage can regrow sufficiently. And if he loses weight, it will take the ease off of the bones. However, this doesn’t happen in most cases, where the damage is difficult to reverse.
By the time the pain become agonizing, it may be too late to arrest the decline. When the cartilage thins out too much, it hardens into a protective layer around the bones. The bones then become susceptible to breakage. At this stage, often the only solution is a bone replacement.
How to slow it down
If you are showing any signs of osteoarthritis, see a doctor. Interestingly, while excessive exercise is detrimental for joints, healthy amounts of exercise are great for keeping bones and joints in good health.
If you need to recover from a knee or hip replacement or other procedures related to osteoarthritis, Alameda Center has premium services to help you get back on your feet. We have a large and modern facility with a caring, experienced and knowledgeable staff.