By Briana Davis, Clinical Trials of Texas, Inc.
SAN ANTONIO - Do your joints feel tender or painful? Do you often experience stiffness or a loss of flexibility in your joints? You may suffer from osteoarthritis – the most common form of arthritis affecting millions of individuals worldwide.
According to estimates by the U.S. National Institute of Health, nearly 27 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common joint disease in the U.S. and in the world. It is a debilitating illness which significantly limits mobility and impairs quality of life for those affected.
Symptoms of this condition can range from mild to extreme and often worsen over time. They are typically characterized by a combination of joint pain and tenderness, stiffness of the joint areas, especially upon waking, decreased flexibility, a crackling sensation which can be heard or felt during movement, and bone spurs (bony growths that form on a normal bone). Osteoarthritis
occurs as cartilage, a rubbery tissue that cushions bones at joints to prevent friction, depreciates over time. As the cartilage begins to wear down, there is less protection and bones may begin to rub on other bones.
It is a common misconception that osteoarthritis is simply a consequence of aging. While the risk of developing osteoarthritis does increase with age, it is typically the result of various environmental factors such as obesity, occupations that require repetitive movements, fracture or joint injuries or playing sports that result in direct joint impact.
Genetic predisposition as well as gender may play a role in development. Women over the age of 55 are far more likely to develop osteoarthritis than men. Chronic medical conditions such as bleeding disorders that cause bleeding at the joints or other forms of arthritis may contribute to osteoarthritis as well.
There are several ways to diagnose osteoarthritis, and physicians often utilize a variety of methods such as x-ray images, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), blood tests and joint fluid analysis. There is no cure, but the pain can be managed through various osteoarthritis treatments
. Over the counter pain medications such as Tylenol are often recommended first, but if the pain becomes more severe, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) or narcotics may be prescribed for pain management.
Lifestyle changes such as increasing exercise, losing weight and resting painful joints are also recommended for pain management. Therapeutic treatments such as physical therapy, shoes inserts, braces or canes may also aid in reducing pain and increasing mobility.
In more severe cases, surgery may be required to restore or replace damaged joint areas. Common surgeries for osteoarthritis include trimming of torn or damaged cartilage, arthroplasty (joint replacement) and osteotomy (realignment of a bone).
If left untreated, osteoarthritis can significantly impact quality of life. Everyday activities such as maintaining employment, cooking and basic hygiene can be very difficult for an individual with severe osteoarthritis. If you are experiencing pain in and around your joints, it is important to contact your health care provider. Early and continued treatment is important to the health of an individual with osteoarthritis.
Clinical Trials of Texas, Inc., located at 7940 Floyd Curl Drive, Suite 700, San Antonio, TX 78229, is currently looking for people with osteoarthritis of the knee
to participate in a research study testing the effectiveness of a new topical gel. If you would like to learn more about this study, please call 210-949-0122 or visit us at SAresearch.com