Osteoarthritis is caused by damage to the cartilage in the joints. Healthy cartilage is essential for the proper function of a joint. The compressible nature of cartilage provides strength and the long term durability required for healthy joints. The normal activity in a joint consists of a process where specific enzymes consistently remodel the cartilage in an effort to avoid damage from daily wear and tear. Osteoarthritis is characterized by overactive enzyme activity within the joints that causes more damage than repair leading to deformity and reduced mobility.
Symptoms of Arthritis
The signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis worsen and affect an increasing number of joints as the disease process progresses. In addition, symptoms that are experienced by an individual depend on the specific joints that are affected. Symptoms include pain, joint stiffness for several hours in the morning, reduced range of motion and flexibility of the affected joint, a feeling like bones are rubbing together and possibly hard lumps in and around the joint from the development of bone spurs.
Treating Arthritis or Treatment of Arthritis
The goals of treatment of osteoarthritis include improving the range of motion of the affected joint, control pain, increase activity and maintenance of a healthy body weight. Many patients go through treatment with a physical therapist to improve range of motion and strength of the joint. A consultation with a dietician may be helpful if weight loss is warranted. Surgery may be offered if bone spurs are present and causing pain or interference with movement of the joint. In addition, medications that reduce inflammation and improve pain may be prescribed. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) reduces the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Many physicians order HBOT treatment as complementary therapy to the traditional therapies mentioned above. HBOT provides an alternative treatment that allows some patients to take less medication.