Osteoarthritis (OA) has been described as a “wearing out of the joint” or a loss of the articular cartilage (cushioning) that surrounds the ends of the long bones in the body. Symptoms include joint pain that increases with weight bearing, morning joint stiffness, palpable warmth, bony enlargement and knee joint tenderness.

OA is one of the most common chronic conditions among older adults. It is estimated that 80% of older adults have at least one joint affected with OA, and the knee is the most commonly affected joint.

How do you get it?

OA seems to be accelerated among individuals with a history of knee injury, or those who have undergone knee surgery. Other risk factors for developing OA in the knee joint include obesity, inactivity and decreased leg muscle strength.

How is it treated?

Maintaining joint mobility helps keep joints as healthy as possible. Treatments including joint mobilization and Bioflex low intensity laser therapy can maintain joint cartilage to prevent further degeneration. Stretching and strength training has been shown to decrease the pain and increase the strength and activities of daily life (ADLs) among patients with knee OA.

Medication can only manage the symptoms. Only when necessary, as a last resort, patients with advanced OA undergo total joint replacement.

What are the precautions?

Certain conditions may be exacerbated with exercise. Torn cartilage sometimes accompanies knee OA. Strength training may result in substantially more knee pain among individuals with this condition. Avoiding high impact exercises and stair climbing will prove helpful in decreasing symptoms. Swimming pool exercises are ideal to take stress off of the weight bearing joints.

How is it prevented?

Joint health is maintained through regular exercise and a healthy diet. Modify risk factors by losing weight, exercising, and increasing leg strength and flexibility to help prevent OA.

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