The most common reason for joint replacement surgery is arthrosis or osteoarthritis. It is the most common joint disease and occurs in almost all people as a result of ageing. Changes tend to progress slowly over the years. In osteoarthritis, more cartilage disappears from the joint than is being formed. The surface of the articular cartilage can get damaged and wear out, allowing the bones to rub against each other. The irritation causes the synovial layer to become irritated, to start swelling and to become stiff. The human body is unable to repair the damaged articular cartilage itself. Osteoarthritis manifests as throbbing pain that worsens when moving and is often relieved at rest. Also, morning stiffness and stiffness when starting to walk are typical symptoms.
Ageing weakens the mechanical properties of the articular cartilage and the metabolism of the tissues. These expose the articular cartilage to damage.
Exercise is the key form of treatment for osteoarthritis, but any sports causing hard impacts should be avoided. Exercise lubricates joints like oil on the door hinge.
Sufficient rest is important to counterbalance exercising.
Excess weight is a great risk factor for osteoarthritis. Losing just a few kilos can reduce the risk of contracting the disease significantly. According to current knowledge, exercise will not cure or stop a diagnosed case of osteoarthritis, but it can help treat and alleviate symptoms, e.g., via improved muscle tone and weight management.
Good ergonomics is good treatment for osteoarthritis because most of us are impacted by, for example, the height of the working surface and our sitting posture every day for several hours.
The range of mobility equipment is extensive, varying from shoe heel pads to wrist supports and from forearm crutches to rollator walkers. You should heed the advice of your doctor or physiotherapist to ensure that the mobility equipment correctly supports your moving.
Temporary relief from osteoarthritis may come in the form of cold or warm compress or gel without any medicinal substances. At first, the pain can also be alleviated by using pain relief gel available from the pharmacy without a prescription.
The primary choice in oral medicine is stomach-friendly paracetamol. It does not strain the intestines as much as actual anti-inflammatory drugs, but it often helps reduce osteoarthritis pain. If paracetamol is of no help, you can discuss anti-inflammatory drugs with your doctor. The course length is usually 7–10 days.
The doctor can inject the joint with cortisone approximately three times a year, which may numb the osteoarthritis pain for several weeks. Unlike cortisone, hyaluronate is a substance found naturally in our body. Doctors administer it as a series of intra-articular injections. The effect varies, but many patients have found that the set of injections has alleviated their osteoarthritis pain for several months.
Pain in fingers can be treated with pain relief creams that include an anti-inflammatory drug. Rest pain is occasionally also treated with mild opiates, such as codeine or tramadol.
When walking becomes unfeasible or the patient’s functional capacity is otherwise clearly reduced as a result of osteoarthritis and the above-mentioned treatments do not help, joint replacement surgery is the next course of treatment.
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