Studies have revealed that an alarming 350 million people around the world suffer from arthritis.
Osteoarthritis (OA), specifically, is the most prevalent form of arthritis and affects more Canadians as compared to all other forms combined. In Canada alone, an estimated 4.6 million people are plagued with this condition. It can wear down any joint in your body, but mostly affects those in your spine, hips, knees and arms. It causes an eventual breakdown of the joint cartilage and surrounding tissue and becomes more and more prominent with age. The GLA:D Program for Osteoarthritis in Ontario is an evidence-based exercise and education program. It has an established track record for reducing the progression of OA symptoms and increasing physical mobility to a surprising degree – after the first three months!
Treatment plans include neuromuscular exercises as well as tips and tricks to self-manage symptoms on a day-to-day basis. More importantly, the GLA:D program focuses on keeping participants informed and in charge of their health issues.
Common symptoms of the disease are bone overgrowth, swelling, pain and muscular stiffness that follows a period of inactivity. Here are 8 health risks that you can easily mitigate with timely and curated treatment measures.
1. Loss of Flexibility
Especially in the early stages of OA, you’ll notice a significant loss of flexibility in your limbs. Loss of range of motion is quite a common occurrence in OA patients and is characterized by a reduction in the range of joint movement in your regular patterns. For instance, you might not be able to bend your knee to the extent you once did after the onset of OA. Although this is a very gradual process, it can have irreversible implications if not corrected on time.
2. Bone Spurs
These occur around the perimeter of the bone and are manifested through projections. They develop most frequently at those areas where two bones meet, namely the joints. Bone spurs are one of the primary symptoms of joint damage caused by OA. Unfortunately, these have a tendency of going undetected for quite some time and can cause a significant loss of motion in your joints.
3. Uncomfortable Sensations
OA is characterized by a premature and swift deterioration of the cartilage. Seeing as the cartilage is the primary shock absorber of the body, its deterioration will cause bones to uncomfortably rub against each other and send abnormal sensations across the body. This will manifest itself in several ways. You may hear your joints groaning or creaking when you move. Alternatively, you might also experience a grating sensation when you coax your body into activity.
4. Increased Pain and Tenderness
OA brings with it aching knees, hips, back and neck. That doesn’t sound like a picnic, does it? You might feel a shooting pain, especially when you move the affected joints a certain way. The pain is accompanied with increased tenderness. That’s the sensation you experience when you press down on a joint. While this is mostly seen at an advanced stage of the disease, tenderness can also result in a swelling around the joint area.
5. Extreme Joint Stiffness
With pain and tenderness running rampant in your body, joint stiffness is sure to follow. An early symptom of OA is a stiffness when you move after being seated at your desk all day or after you first wake up. That wooden sensation will make you feel sluggish, however a couple of well-planned exercises will help you get back into your routine.
6. Sleep Disruption
Due to all of these new and elevated symptoms, loss of sleep is not uncommon. This, in turn, is likely to worsen an already aggravated condition and lessen your ability to stay strong and cope.
7. Mood Swings
With chronic pains comes mood alterations that are often very hard to control. OA can have a detrimental impact on your mental health, with a majority of OA patients experiencing anxiety and depression. When your mental health takes a nosedive, your overall health is likely to follow. GLA:D accounts for this and ensures that both your mental and physical health are carefully considered, earning it a stamp of approval from the OA community.
Exhaustion and tiredness are part and parcel of the pain that stems from OA symptoms. This severely impairs your quality of life and makes it that much harder to stay abreast of those relationships and activities that make you happy. The onset of fatigue is often sudden and comes without warning. When your energy levels are drained, it makes you a victim of your condition that much more. With a reliable treatment plan, you can conquer these bothersome symptoms and live life to the fullest.