Don't let osteoarthritis slow you down

Published On: Feb 06 2012 12:47:16 PM EST
Updated On: Feb 07 2012 02:00:32 PM EST

iStock / Yuri_Arcurs

(NewsUSA) - Osteoarthritis affects an estimated 27 million Americans and is the most common type of arthritis. Women over the age of 50 have a greater risk of suffering from osteoarthritis than men of the same age. In fact, women overall are more likely to experience a decrease in their activity level.

With osteoarthritis, the tissue that serves as a 'cushion' between joints breaks down and causes the joints to rub together. This can result in chronic pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility. Chronic pain can be one of the most difficult parts of dealing with osteoarthritis, and it can get in the way of routine activities that make life rich and fulfilling -- such as working, driving, shopping or even hugging a grandchild. A majority of people with osteoarthritis say it is difficult to be physically active. This puts them at risk for other medical problems, such as heart disease, diabetes and weight gain.

"For many individuals, the main goal is to effectively treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis and stay active," says Society for Women's Health Research spokesperson Carmen Green, M.D., Professor of Anesthesiology and Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Associate Professor of Health Management and Policy at the University of Michigan. "Treatment may include a mix of physical therapy, acupuncture, massage and prescription pain medications, including over-the-counter products, anti-inflammatory drugs and opioid medications."

Experts believe the sooner osteoarthritis is diagnosed and treated, the better the chances are of preventing it from getting worse. Those battling osteoarthritis should see a doctor about managing their pain. They -- and their caregivers -- should also learn as much as they can and be actively involved in their own treatment plan.

To learn more about osteoarthritis and how to treat the symptoms, visit the Society for Women's Health Research at www.swhr.org. This website will direct visitors to resources that contain a variety of information on pain conditions, such as pain assessment and measurement tools, and links to pain education and advocacy groups. The content can help people with osteoarthritis better understand the condition and improve their ability to talk about pain with their healthcare provider.

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