Monthly Archives: August 2016

Osteoarthritis Treatment for You

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative form of arthritis occurring at middle age due to the wear and tear of the joints. It is a normal physiological part of the aging process. Almost every person suffers from this type of arthritis in a milder or severe form depending upon the precipitating factors. Basically, osteoarthritis means the loss of cartilage between the bones of the affected joints.

Obesity, overuse of the joints, age, genetics, gender (women are more likely to develop arthritis), trauma are considered to be some of the general risk factors. Common sites to be affected are knee, hip, spine and small joints of the hands. Pain and stiffness that increases with activity are the main symptoms of osteoarthritis. Swelling and joint instability may also be a symptom in some cases.

The changes in the articular cartilage being irreversible, osteoarthritis can only be controlled and further thinning of cartilage can be arrested. In some cases pain-free condition can be achieved by combination of treatments.

Treatment of Osteoarthritis

Arthritis Medications
Arthritis medications need to be individualized for every person. Analgesics, NSAID’s, and COX-2 inhibitors are the painkillers used for joint pain relief to ensure mobility in the aching joints. Calcium and mineral supplements can be used to reduce osteoporosis. Some nutritional supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are used to minimize cartilage destruction.

Local Therapy
Topical creams and liniments can be used for pain relief. They provide temporary relief as they act superficially by relieving the pain in the muscle. Heat therapy is used for muscle relaxation and relieves the aching joints. Heat application is contra-indicated if the joints are swollen. Cold application helps to reduce the pain in such joints.

Intra-articular Treatments
Intra-articular corticosteroids can be administered in severe cases of joint pain and inflammation, but long-term and repetitive use should not be encouraged.

Physiotherapy and Exercises
Physiotherapy helps in reducing pain, stiffness and improves muscle strength and mobility of joints. Muscle strengthening exercises need to be done stringently, to support the affected joint. Excessive stress on the joints should be avoided while exercising, as it might aggravate further degeneration of the cartilage.

Weight Loss
Weight loss is the most effective way to treat this condition. Overweight individuals tend to put a lot of pressure on the knee, back and hip joints; this further accelerates the degeneration of the cartilage. Taking off the extra kilos can significantly arrest the cartilage thinning process.

Living with Osteoarthritis
Patient education is a very important aspect of arthritis management. The patient needs to be educated about the dos and don’ts in daily activities. Squatting, kneeling, prolonged standing, sitting cross-legged, lifting heavy weights should be avoided. Regular Exercises, weight maintenance and medications need to be strictly followed. Different types of braces and aids for the knees and spine can be used for supporting the affected joints.

Surgical Management
Advanced osteoarthritis needs surgical treatment like arthroscopy, osteotomy, or a total joint replacement surgery.

Prevention
Prevention is the best cure and it should start in early adulthood. Though we can’t stop aging, it’s important to stop premature and disabling aging. Moderate muscle strengthening exercises should be done regularly. Healthy weight should be maintained with the help of exercises, and it’s necessary to adopt a balanced diet. A healthy diet would help keep the excess weight off our joints thus reducing undue stress on them. Sports injury and other minor injuries should be prevented.

Ways to Help Prevent Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, which occurs in adults by the age of 45-50. This condition normally affects the joints of the body like the spine, hips, knees, feet and hands. There are many causes for the occurrence of this condition, the most common being lack of lubrication amongst the joints, that makes its movement difficult and painful. Another reason being wear and tear of cartilage that covers the bone, over a period of time. The cartilage on the bones is there to protect your joints and establish a smooth layer on them to allow its free and easy movement, but osteoarthritis breaks down the smooth cartilage, increases friction that leads to rubbing of bones against each other and causes immense pain. Usually older women are more likely to develop this condition than men. The hormone estrogen in women, is responsible for blocking or slowing down the bone loss. The loss of estrogen after menopause is one of the major causes for developing osteoporosis.

Thankfully, there are ways for you to combat the onset of this condition. To prevent oneself from osteoarthritis is not a very daunting task, you have to follow certain preventive tips to lower your risk of having this condition.

Preventive Measures to Avoid Osteoarthritis

Regular Exercise

Exercising regularly is the best way to fight the condition of osteoarthritis. Regular exercise, strengthens your muscles and keeps your joints flexible. There are certain exercises that can put your muscles and joints through a lot of tension. If you feel you are overdoing any form of exercise, make sure you modify these exercises or avoid doing them at once, so that there are no further complications. You can also try low impact exercises like yoga, swimming, walking and stretching that will strengthen your muscles and loosen your joints.

Correct Posture

Always try to maintain a good posture while sitting and standing. Make sure you do not slump in the couch while watching TV or when you are sitting in your chair at the workplace. In case you have a history of osteoarthritis in your family you ought to be more careful. The advice is quite simple, all you have to do is wear a seat belt while driving, get a regular check up in case you experience severe pain, and avoid injury if at all possible.

Avoid Stress on Joints

Knee or elbow pads should be used while playing any kind of sport (like skating, tennis, dancing and so on) that would increase the risk of joint injuries. If certain repetitive movements or actions are causing pain, modify it in a way that it reduces the pressure on the joints. And if your job requires you to work in a certain position that is causing discomfort (like typing and choreography), make sure you vary your activities and movements so as to not pressurize your joints too much.

Maintain Correct Body Weight

Obese people are more prone to problems like this, because the knees are responsible for carrying your body weight and excess weight can put stress on your knee and hip joints, that can lead to osteoarthritis. Maintaining a correct body weight not only reduces risks related to osteoarthritis but also those associated with various heart diseases. Being in shape makes you look and feel good as well.

Do Not Ignore the Pain

Although this advice will sound cliche, people don’t always follow it. Learn to recognize your body signals and also do not push your body too hard, when it comes to doing some activities or exercises. In case you have overstressed your joints, make sure you give them a good hot oil massage or use a hot water bag in the aggrieved area. This will give you instant relief and also loosen your joints.

So, here you are with some handy tips to prevent osteoarthritis. Make sure you see the doctor immediately if the pain aggravates and before the condition gets worse. After all, prevention is better than cure.

Finding Osteoporosis Treatment for You

A bone is a living tissue, and can break and repair itself, like all tissues. But age diminishes its reconstruction capacity, resulting in spaces (tiny holes) which reduce its density. The bone becomes fragile and causes fractures (cracks) in the hip or compressions in the vertebra. Bones are made up collagen, calcium, and protein―deficiency of these also leads to osteoporosis. The spine, hips, and wrists are most affected by bone fractures caused due to osteoporosis. Although, all skeletal bones are also vulnerable to osteoporosis-related fractures.

The symptoms are not noticed unless a fracture occurs, after which, there is a noticeable pain that radiates to other parts of the body. In osteoporosis, healing takes longer, and in the process, it could fracture a number of other bones. This condition cannot be cured completely, but can be prevented and managed. Prevention will help increase bone density and strength, whereas, early detection and timely treatment can decrease the risk of future fractures.

Hormone Therapy (HT)
This therapy helps prevent bone loss and fractures, and increases bone density. It is known to help in preventing osteoporosis in post-menopausal women. Estrogen-based medication is commonly prescribed by doctors. Progesterone is also routinely given in combination with estrogen However, hormone therapy doesn’t suit everyone, and is known to cause some side effects.

Prescription Medications
Raloxifene (Evista): It belongs to a class of drugs called selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). It has similar healing properties as estrogen, minus the side effects of increased risk of breast and uterine cancer.

Bisphosphonates: This group of medication helps increase bone density in the spine and hip, and reduces the risk of fractures by preserving bone mass and inhibiting bone breakdown.

Teriparatide (Forteo): This drug has similar properties of a parathyroid hormone, and is used to treat osteoporosis in post-menopausal women, and men. Unlike other therapies that prevent further bone loss, teriparatide stimulates new bone growth.

Calcitonin: This hormone is produced by the thyroid gland and helps reduce bone loss. In some patients, it is known to provide pain relief from compression fractures in the spine. It is either administered through an injection or as a nasal spray.

Strontium Ranelate: This drug encourages the growth of new bone tissues, and is useful for women with menopausal symptoms, as it lowers the chances of breaking any bones.

Nutritional Supplements
Nutritional supplements like calcium and vitamin D are usually prescribed to ensure maximum effectiveness of the drug therapy. Adequate intake of calcium, protein, and vitamin D helps maintain bone density and prevent osteoporosis.

Nutrition and Lifestyle Factors
A balanced diet rich in calcium and protein will help make the bones stronger and reduce chances of further breakage. Milk, milk based products, calcium-fortified orange juice, and salmon are some of the calcium rich foods one can consume. Curtailing alcohol intake and smoking is also beneficial in treating osteoporosis.

Certain weight-bearing exercises like riding stationary bicycles, walking or jogging will help reduce the probability of bone fractures associated with osteoporosis. Special exercise programs under medical supervision can help in rehabilitation after a fracture. Exercising will also help in maintaining a good body weight, as being over or under weight further aggravates osteoporosis.

Alternative Physical Therapy Program
Weighted kypho-orthosis (WKO) is a new physical therapy which has been designed to reduce back pain, benefit posture, and reduce the risk of falls in patients with osteoporosis. WKO is a harness with a light weight attached, and is worn daily for 30 minutes in the morning and afternoon, and while performing back extension exercises. Although this treatment is still in its infancy, it has shown some significant improvements in patients suffering from osteoporosis.

Psychological and Emotional Therapy
Many patients with severe osteoporosis incline towards depression, as this bone disease affects movement and tends to increase dependency on others. It is important to ensure continuous support, as it would help in lessening the feelings of isolation and depression.

Osteoporosis can affect anyone, though it is observed more in menopausal women. It can’t be cured, but can be managed with a combination of medical treatment and a few lifestyle changes.

Choose Yoga Poses for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is the loss of bone density, which happens when the levels of calcium and minerals deplete in the bones, and they start becoming weak. Bone density generally starts declining in our thirties.

Common treatments for osteoporosis include, medications like calcium and mineral supplements, and light exercise. Yoga has specific poses or ‘asanas’ that focus on increasing bone strength. They help reduce aches and pain that follow in osteoporosis. Besides, one can continue conventional treatment and still follow yoga regularly.

According to research by Dr. Loren Fisherman, Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine, a group of people aged 68 years on an average, were scanned for bone density. After the scan, half of them were taught yoga poses. After two years, again a scan was conducted on the same group of people. The conclusions were stunning, as people who practiced yoga showed healthier bone density. In fact, they gained bone density. The other half who did not practice yoga, lost a considerable amount of bone density.

Yoga Poses for Osteoporosis and Bone Health

Extended Triangle Pose
‘Utthita Trikonasana’

The three angles that are formed in this pose represent the three facets of yoga; mind, body, and spirit. This pose gives the entire body a good stretch, wherein, the lower body is strengthened.

Half Moon Pose
‘Ardha Chandrasana’

This pose is very beneficial for providing relief from pain experienced due to osteoporosis. The pose focuses on strengthening the spine and abdomen. It also stretches the legs and glutes.

Bridge Pose
‘Setu Bandha Sarvangasana’

This pose is therapeutic to osteoporosis, and gives a relaxing stretch to the spine, neck, chest, and back. It strengthens the back, pelvis, and spine.

Twisted Triangle Pose
‘Parivrtta Trikonasana’

This pose gives the spine a gentle twist, which puts pressure on the bones, and the body responds to it by building more bone for strength. This pose also supports the spine and builds strength.

Tree Pose
‘Vrikshasana’

The tree pose is excellent for improving body posture. It stretches the spinal cord in great alignment with the body. It strengthens the back, shoulders, and hip muscles, and assists the body in achieving stability and balance in the hip muscles.

Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend
‘Prasarita Padottanasana’

This pose puts weight on the hips and legs, and strengthens the lower body. It is beneficial, as the weight-bearing act strengthens the large bones of the hips and legs. It also improves posture and flexibility. The pose also lends concavity and flexibility to the spine.

Seated Twisting Pose
‘Ardha Matsyendrasana’

In this pose more pressure is put on the spine. The spine gets a gentle twist and stretch, which, in turn, puts pressure on the bones, but not the vertebrae. The body responds to this pressure in a way that it builds more bones.

Cobra Pose
‘Bhujangasana’

This pose gives the spine a stretch with a gentle back bend. It strengthens the spine and upper back muscles. The pose is excellent for improving the posture of the spine. Poses that focus on the spine are very beneficial for preventing a hunchback, which is a common sign in osteoporosis.

Chair Pose
‘Utkatasana’

In this pose, the muscles around the hips are strengthened. These are most susceptible to injury, and the most common site for osteoporosis. It aligns the body with great balance, which in turn, also improves posture.

Remember, as we age, our bones become weaker. When we are young, sudden body movements do not create complications, in most cases. But, the body cannot take sudden and extreme body movements when we are older. In osteoporosis, especially, there is a risk of harm to the bones with uncontrolled and extreme movements. So, always be gentle when performing any yoga pose. Take your time, and slowly move in and out of the pose. Always warm up, first and stretch your body well.