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11 Facts About Osteoarthritis Everyone Should Know

Health Central discusses basic facts on what people should know about osteoarthritis (OA) according to experts including HSS rheumatologist Dee Dee Wu, MD.

Dr. Wu explained OA and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) both involve joint pain and damage, however they’re very different diseases. Both lead to inflammation, but the chronic inflammation that occurs with RA is much worse, said Dr. Wu. Treatment is different and having one type of arthritis doesn’t preclude you from having another. Additionally, RA typically feels better when you move, whereas OA typically feels worse, she noted.

Weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips are under a lot of pressure during everyday activities like walking, climbing stairs, or simply standing up. With excess weight, the pressure intensifies and can speed up joint damage. The risk of knee OA, in particular, is strongly correlated with weight, cited Dr. Wu “People who are obese are 6.8 times more likely than people at a healthy weight to develop knee OA.” For those who are overweight, weight loss can help slow down OA progression, reduce pain, and improve joint function.

The form of exercise can also help improve joint function and reduce OA symptoms, “Exercise helps build muscle mass to support the joints and also contributes to a healthy weight,” said Dr. Wu. The key is keeping exercise low-impact so that you don’t contribute to wear and tear on weight-bearing joint.

X-rays are important for diagnosing OA and seeing the severity of cartilage and joint damage, but they don’t reveal much about a person’s symptoms. “There’s not a real direct correlation between how lousy X-rays look and how bad you feel,” said Dr. Wu. “Some people have bone-on-bone and minimal pain, while others have minor X-ray changes and a lot of pain.” Because OA treatment is all about managing symptoms, the way you feel is sometimes more important than what a scan can show, she noted.

Read the full article at Healthcentral.com.