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"Understanding Osteoarthritis: Symptoms and Impacts on Our Health

Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common forms of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. This degenerative joint disease is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage, which cushions the ends of bones in the joints. As this cartilage wears down, it leads to pain, stiffness, and other debilitating symptoms. In this blog, we'll explore what osteoarthritis is, its symptoms, and the broader health impacts it can have.

What is Osteoarthritis?


Osteoarthritis is a chronic joint condition that occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wears down over time. Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint, it most commonly affects joints in the hands, knees, hips, and spine. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disorder, osteoarthritis is primarily a result of wear-and-tear.


Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
Chronic Joint Pain

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis manifests through various symptoms, which can significantly impact daily activities and quality of life. The severity of symptoms can vary, but they typically include:

  1. Joint Pain: Persistent pain in the affected joints, especially after repetitive use or prolonged periods of inactivity. This pain can range from mild to severe and often worsens with activity.

  2. Stiffness: Joint stiffness, particularly noticeable upon waking up in the morning or after sitting for an extended period. This stiffness usually eases after movement.

  3. Swelling: Swelling around the affected joint due to inflammation. This can make the joint appear larger and feel tender to the touch.

  4. Loss of Flexibility: Reduced range of motion in the affected joints, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks.

  5. Grating Sensation: A feeling of grating or a sensation of bone rubbing against bone when using the joint. This is often accompanied by audible crackling or clicking sounds.

  6. Bone Spurs: Extra bits of bone, called bone spurs, may form around the affected joint. These can contribute to pain and restrict joint movement.

  7. Muscle Weakness: Over time, the muscles around the affected joint may weaken due to reduced activity and disuse.

Health Impacts of Osteoarthritis

Beyond the primary symptoms affecting the joints, osteoarthritis can have several broader health impacts:

  1. Chronic Pain: Persistent joint pain can lead to chronic discomfort, affecting sleep and overall quality of life. The constant pain can also contribute to emotional and mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.

  2. Reduced Mobility: Joint stiffness and pain can limit the range of motion, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks like walking, climbing stairs, or even standing. This reduced mobility can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, further exacerbating other health problems.

  3. Muscle Weakness: Decreased activity levels can lead to muscle atrophy and weakness around the affected joints. This muscle weakness can increase the risk of falls and injuries.

  4. Emotional and Mental Health Issues: The chronic pain and reduced mobility associated with osteoarthritis can contribute to feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress. The inability to participate in social and recreational activities can lead to social isolation and a decreased quality of life.

  5. Obesity and Weight Gain: Limited physical activity due to pain can contribute to weight gain and obesity. Excess weight further strains weight-bearing joints, exacerbating OA symptoms and increasing the risk of other health conditions.

  6. Cardiovascular Health: Reduced physical activity and potential weight gain can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension and heart disease. Inactivity is a known risk factor for heart disease and related conditions.

  7. Metabolic Disorders: The decreased activity levels and potential weight gain associated with osteoarthritis can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol levels.

  8. Sleep Disturbances: Pain and discomfort can lead to difficulties in falling or staying asleep, resulting in non-restorative sleep and daytime fatigue. Poor sleep quality can further impact overall health and well-being.

  9. Decreased Quality of Life: The pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility associated with osteoarthritis can lead to a decreased quality of life. Individuals may find it challenging to participate in activities they once enjoyed, leading to feelings of frustration and helplessness.

Health Impacts of Osteoarthritis
Reduced Mobility

Conclusion

Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition that not only affects the joints but also has broader health impacts that can significantly affect overall well-being. Understanding the symptoms and potential health consequences of osteoarthritis is essential for managing the condition effectively. If you suspect you have osteoarthritis, it's crucial to seek medical advice to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your needs. With proper management, including lifestyle modifications and appropriate therapies, individuals with osteoarthritis can improve their quality of life and maintain their independence. If you're struggling with osteoarthritis, consider consulting with a qualified TCM practitioner to explore personalized treatment options tailored to your specific needs and conditions.


At Chinese Medical Centre (CMC), 中国中医. Our experienced TCM practitioners are dedicated to helping you achieve optimal health and well-being through holistic and integrative care. Visit our website at www.cmc.sg to learn more and book your appointment today.

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