Recognizing the Symptoms and Knowing When to Seek Help
Medically speaking, osteoarthritis is a condition that occurs when the cartilage that typically exists in the joints of your bones wears down over time. This condition will eventually cause your bones at those joints to rub against each other directly, slowly eroding your actual bones and becoming increasingly more painful.
Since osteoarthritis has no formal cure, it’s important that you seek treatment for this ailment as early as possible in hopes of staving off the harshest of its long-term effects. And that starts with a bit of self-diagnosis so that you know when to head to a medical professional.
What are the causes of osteoarthritis?
As we mentioned, osteoarthritis is caused by joint damage over time, most typically the result of lots of small dings and injuries to your joints throughout life. There are assorted other causes apart from age, including:
- Sports/activity-related trauma (no matter your age) like torn cartilage, dislocated joints, and ligament injuries
- Genetic history
- Poor posture
The point being, since you simply accumulate more wear and tear on your joints as you age, the more susceptible you are to developing osteoarthritis the older you become.
What are the early signs of osteoarthritis?
With any illness, it’s important that you find ways to tell if you’re in the beginning stages so you can start treating it properly, as you don’t want to lower your quality of life. Fortunately, your body tends to let you know through subtle symptoms that something could be wrong, and this definitely includes osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of this ailment are quite physical in nature, and they all start in the joints, including:
- Low-level pain
- Restricted mobility
In fact, you can get osteoarthritis in any joint in your body, though it occurs most frequently in the following areas:
- Lower Back
It’s important to listen to what your body is telling you instead of powering through what you think could just be minor joint pain because you’re getting slightly older.
Do I really need to see a doctor if I have basic joint pain?
The downside to the basic symptoms is that it’s easy to ignore them by relying on over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. That approach means you could wait until you’re too far down the road with your osteoarthritis to where significant damage has occurred in your joints before you begin treatment. Because if you leave them untreated long enough, those minor symptoms could grow to include more serious ones like enlargement of the bones where the cartilage has worn away, joint deformity like bow legs, or knock-knees.
In short, you can’t directly tell as a layperson whether or not you have osteoarthritis, but you can pay attention to the symptoms. That’s why it’s important to have a trained physician address anything even remotely approaching the symptoms of osteoarthritis as soon as they appear.
Specifically, you want to see a specialist who treats arthritis exclusively. These doctors will employ x-ray imaging or an MRI machine to gain a closer look at your joints – especially if you visit before the more serious symptoms develop – to determine if osteoarthritis is your actual diagnosis. Because not only is it important to have your symptoms addressed by a qualified professional, but you need to be informed as soon possible so you can better understand all your treatment options.
Osteoarthritis can affect nearly anyone, as it’s the most common joint disorder in America. If your body is experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, there is a good chance you may be developing osteoarthritis. Contact Arthritis Relief & Vascular Centers today if you think you may be developing osteoarthritis.