A slippery tissue, cartilage, that covers the ends of bones and functions as a shock absorber and lubricates joint movement is necessary for the proper functioning of joints. Dr. Joaquin Sanchez-Sotelo, M.D., PhD, an orthopaedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic, says that age-related cartilage loss does not always need joint replacement.
Dr. Sanchez-Sotelo explains that cartilage degenerates for many causes. Individuals may be born with unusually formed bones or a propensity toward cartilage that is more fragile. Additionally, obesity, overuse, and accidents may damage joints and cartilage.
Dr. Sanchez-Sotelo explains that as cartilage degenerates, bone spurs develop. This is a response to the root cause of the issue, cartilage deterioration. Bone spurs may cause discomfort when they collide. In rare instances, removing bone spurs alone will not solve the condition, even though bone spurs are a common source of obsession among patients.
The essence of osteoarthritis is the frequent joint condition of articular cartilage loss. On an individual level, it may cause joint pain and other symptoms severe enough to impede or prevent the execution of daily chores. It is a chronic disorder that grows increasingly prevalent with age, particularly beyond 65, and often worsens once it begins. Ageing, obesity, past injury, repeated stress on a joint, and heredity are the key risk factors for osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis may affect any joint, but the knees, hips, and hands, particularly the joints of the fingers and the base of the thumb, are the most prevalent sites. There is no known cure for the condition.
Most of Dr. Sanchez’s patients are in their sixties when they see a healthcare professional with symptoms such as aching and painful joints, stiffness, and loss of mobility.
Dr. Sanchez-Sotelo adds that you may safeguard your joints as you age by taking precautions while you are younger. Strong muscles around the joints may assist in relieving joint stress. However, high-level athletes in sports such as football and bodybuilding are more likely to acquire arthritis.
Dr. Sanchez-Sotelo advises exercising with moderation. Find the point at which your muscles are healthy, flexible, and strong enough to protect your joints, but don’t go too far.
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential since obesity is detrimental to the joints. According to Dr. Sanchez-Sotelo, glucosamine and chondroitin are popular supplements for joint discomfort, but there is little data to support their efficacy.
He provides the following recommendations for controlling arthritic pain:
Modify your activities. If you have arthritic hips or knees instead of jogging, which causes joint pounding, you may want to consider cycling.
Using walking assistance may alleviate joint stress. Using a cane can reduce discomfort by reducing the strain on your hip, knee, and ankle joints. A knee brace, worn over clothing, transfers weight to the healthy side of the knee joint.
Over-the-counter drugs such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen may be considered if the pain continues. However, you should be aware of the potential adverse effects, such as ulcers, renal and heart problems.
Generally speaking, opioids should not be used to treat osteoarthritis.
If the pain persists, you may also try injections of pain-relieving drugs such as cortisone or Toradol, which, when injected into the joint, may provide pain relief. Again, these treatments have adverse effects; thus, you should see a medical practitioner.
Hyaluronic acid is also injected and employs components comparable to the joint lubricating fluid to refill it. The knee joint has been more successfully treated than the hip and shoulder joints.
In regenerative medicine, several injections contain stem cells and platelet-rich plasma. Since there is no conclusive proof of their effectiveness, many consider their usage experimental.
Dr. Sanchez-Sotelo believes that in the past, elderly adults just tolerated joint discomfort. Now that people are living longer, they want to age actively. Not everyone will need a joint replacement. Some persons in their eighties and nineties have healthy joints.