Osteoarthritis Pain Relief

Written by Serena Berger
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Osteoarthritis, or OA, is one of the oldest and most common types of arthritis. It is an extremely painful degenerative joint disease characterized by the breakdown of the joint's cartilage. When cartilage is gone, bones rub against each other directly, causing pain and loss of movement. OA is the worst in weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, back, and feet; it can be particularly bad in the hands, as well, as they require some of the most precise and frequent movements.

OA can be caused by a variety of factors. Sometimes it is genetic--most often this is the case if you are going to get it in your hands. Being overweight is one of the most significant factors in developing OA in the knees, hips, and back. The additional stress placed on these joint over many years of supporting too much weight leads to the breakdown of cartilage. Any injuries to these joints are also likely causes for OA, which is why you often see OA in older people who played sports, abused their joints with high-impact workouts, or were in serious accidents at some point.

Pain Management for OA

While the pain of OA makes many kinds of movement unpleasant, doctors almost always insist that you exercise to keep the joints flexible and build muscle strength. Consequently, pain management becomes even more important because the exercise increases pain before its benefits kick in. Some medications can only be prescribed by a doctor, and while they are the most powerful, they may also be a source of concern because you can build up a tolerance or damage your liver with unintentional overdosing.

As far as over-the-counter osteoarthritis pain relief goes, you may find that acetaminophen is helpful. Some sufferers find that hot or cold therapy can give them temporary relief, especially if they have a specific event coming up. Heat loosens the muscles which become tight and sore, while cold reduces inflammation. Some people also swear by nutritional supplements--namely glucosamine and chondroitin, which may help slow the diminishing of cartilage and decrease swelling, respectively.

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