Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, occurs due to the gradual daily wear and tear of our joints. The cartilage that provides a buffer between bones breaks down and wears away, allowing the bones to rub and grind against each other. Doctors have plenty of medications that can help you deal with osteoarthritis pain, and for people in extreme pain there are surgical treatments.
While osteoarthritis can affect any joint it commonly occurs in the hips, knees and spine. Finger and toe joints can also be affected. Rarely affected are the wrists, elbows, shoulders, ankles and jaw, except as a result of an injury.
With healthy joints, the cartilage covers the end of each bone providing a cushion. The start of an unhealthy joint begins when the cartilage becomes damaged and loses its elasticity. Over time the cartilage continues to wear out by injury and repeated use. Eventually the bones rub together as the cartilage disappears, creating pain and discomfort when the joint is put to action.
Although the early symptoms of osteoarthritis are often minor, they can be severely disabling in the advanced stages of the disease. Symptoms are usually at their worst after the joints have been overused or have remained inactive for a long period of time.
The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis are:
- Joint stiffness and pain
- Increased symptoms during cold, damp weather
- Cracking or grating noises caused by movement in affected joints
- Limited movement and stiffness in affected joints
There are a number of natural remedies you can use, often at home, to treat your pain.
Exercise Gets You Moving
Gentle weight training and aerobic exercise is a great osteoarthritis treatment that can strengthen the muscles around the affected joint, providing it with greater support. “This is really important,” says Roy Altman, MD, a professor of rheumatology in the department of medicine at UCLA. “Six times your weight goes through your knee every time you stamp down. If you have decent muscles around the knee, they absorb some of that shock.” Aquatic exercise is one of the natural remedies that have been shown to help.