Rheumatology is one of the branches of medicine that is entirely devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases. Rheumatologists are physicians who were formally trained in rheumatology, and they mainly deal with immune-mediated disorders.
Mainly, these disorders are associated with the human musculoskeletal system, autoimmune diseases, soft tissues, vasculitides, and also heritable connective tissue disorders. Most of these ailments are now known as the disorders of the human immune system. The thorough study and practical implementation of medical immunology is what we call Rheumatology.
Osteoarthritis is a type of chronic disease. This particular type of arthritis mainly affects the joints in the hand, hips, knees, spine, and big toes. There is an overall 46% lifetime risk of getting affected by OA of the knee. In contrast, the lifetime probability of being diagnosed with OA of the hip is a mere 25%.
Such groundbreaking data is being revealed by the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project, which is a long term study initiated by the University of North Carolina. The study has been sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) together with the National Institutes of Health.
OA is among the most common causes of disability found in older people. The overall goal of the Osteoarthritis treatment is reducing pain and improving the physical functioning of the body. The science of rheumatology is engaged with helping patients lead a comfortable life through the prevention of any further bone damage.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Osteoarthritis is often abbreviated as OA. It’s one of the common joint diseases that mostly affects people who belong to the middle-age bracket. Cases of elderly men and women getting affected by this condition are quite common.
The wear and tear of joints are known as OA. However, recent studies revealed that the disease that impacts the entire joint, including the cartilage, ligaments, joint lining, and bone; this means that the joints don’t ‘wear out’ in the affected patients.
The disease can be characterized by the breakdown of the cartilage, changes in the joints’ appearance, and even the deterioration of ligaments and tendons. Several degrees of inflammation of the synovium (joint lining) is also one of the most common characteristics of OA.
Like other diseases, Osteoarthritis can also be diagnosed using several measures. Among the most common modes of assessment are:
- X-rays: Although the cartilage doesn’t reveal itself in X-ray images, the loss in cartilage can be figured out using X-ray. Typically, an OA affected area of your body will show the gradual narrowing of the space between the bones in your joint. It may also reveal bone spurs around the affected joint.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI, radio waves and strong magnetic fields are used for producing detailed images of the bone and soft tissues, including that of the cartilage. Although an MRI isn’t mandatory for diagnosing Osteoarthritis, it can certainly help in digging more information in cases of complicated conditions.
- Blood tests: No specific blood tests exist for diagnosing Osteoarthritis. However, several tests can help physicians to determine if joint pain is caused due to other factors.
- Joint fluid analysis: In this method, the physician uses a needle from drawing fluid from the affected part of your bone. Then, the fluid undergoes tests that help the doctor determine if the pain is caused by an infection other than Osteoarthritis.
Some of the most common symptoms of Osteoarthritis are mentioned below:
- Joint stiffness and pain
- Knobby swelling in and around the joints
- OA patients may hear a cracking or grinding noise whenever they try to move the affected area.
- Generally, an OA patient experiences a decreased function of their affected joint.
Tips To Reduce The Impact of Osteoarthritis
Although the disease has no permanent cure, several forms of treatments are available that are implemented for managing the symptoms of the ailment. When long-term disease management is considered, several factors play a pivotal role. They are as follows:
Exercise is key: Exercise is one of the best ways to fight against OA. Excess weight can put stress on the affected joints. The excessive weight will mainly impact the wellness of knee joints, low back, and hips among the OA patients. Surprisingly, official data revealed that for every 10 pounds of weight you lose over time, chances of you getting affected by OA gets reduced by a whopping 50%. Exercise improves your overall muscle strength. It also decreases joint pain and minimizes stiffness. It also lowers the chances of becoming disabled due to OA.
Drug therapy: Drug therapies can be performed in the following ways:
- Topical (Application of ointment directly on the affected area): Examples are capsaicin cream, lidocaine, and diclofenac gel.
- Oral (by mouth): acetaminophen
- Injections (shots): Patients experiencing more serious pain might require stronger medications, including prescription narcotics.
Alternate ways: There are other alternative treatments available that you can adopt for minimizing the impact of OA. These include:
- Spa (hot tub),
- Massage, and
- Chiropractic manipulation
These alternative medicine treatments are also referred to as complementary or integrative treatments. Above all, having a positive attitude about life is the best remedy that you can adopt. There is no alternative to positivity, even when situations around you get hard.