Osteoarthritis now has become a severe concern of Canadians after it’s reported that this disease affects more than three million in the country, most of them are the elders.
Osteoarthritis is considered the most common form of the arthritis. It is estimated that 14.2% of Canadians aged 15 or older suffer from osteoarthritis. Naturally, it is the most common type of disease among people aged 65 plus years, as many as one in four has osteoarthritis ( OA). This danger can result in disability and require joint replacement surgery among seniors.
For someone who is unfamiliar with osteoarthritis, in simple words, it is the leading cause of long-term disability in Canada. Osteoarthritis takes negative impacts on all structures of the joint, leading to the loss of cartilage, changes in the bone around the joint and finally destroys it. Affecting more than three million Canadians, osteoarthritis attacks both sexes and people of all ages, but is more common in older adults.
OA victims suffer from joint pain, aching and stiffness, which limit their ability to participate in valued activities and even interrupt their sleep.
Although the joints can be replaced through surgery, but the goal of Canadian doctors is preventing this disease at the beginning. Early diagnosis and treatment can help limit its most painful effects on joints.
Another negative effect of OA on the patients -what is less well recognized is depression. Many as one-quarter of people living with chronic and painful OA also experience depression.
Seriously, depression in this population can result in a vicious cycle of fatigue and inactivity which can lead to greater pain.
In a recent research, experts studied the effects of OA pain on mood in elder adults with hip or knee OA. Surprisingly, they found that symptoms consistent with depression were common among seniors with OA, but under-diagnosed and under-treated. In fact, almost half of seniors with OA suffering from depressed mood were receiving no mental health care.
There are many possible explanations for these findings. In detail, diagnosing and treating depression in seniors can be challenging for several reasons:
Patient’s likelihood of reporting symptoms of depression to their physicians will be decreased by the stigma associated with mental health conditions.
Secondly, it is very difficult to identify at which level a depressive state is ‘normal’ or chronic pain.
Mixed depression management in the elderly comes along with the frequent presence of other health problems. Last but not least, differentiating OA symptoms from other types of depression among the elderly is not easy.
On the other hand, the toughest task in osteoarthritis treatment process is its late diagnosis. In most of cases, recognizing the effects of chronic pain is too late, usually when the disease is so advanced that doctors can’t do anything to stop it, said Arash Panahifar, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Saskatchewan, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology.
Detecting the effects of chronic pain in elders with OA plays an important role in managing the disease. More effective pain management has potential to reduce these effects.
She added: “We did not manage this disease well at all. Unfortunately, the best we can do for these patients is to treat the symptoms with pain killers and watch as the entire cartilage thickness is degraded and the joint cannot function any longer.”
Luckily, effective treatment for OA is readily available to most people with OA in the form of physical activity. Early diagnosis and treatment can help limit its most painful effects on joints.
The first-type treatment of OA is not drug-related, it’s a self-management approach that contains a key role for physical activity to reduce pain, improve function, and of course, improve sleep quality and mood. More significantly, this method keeps the joint pain side-lined. Physical activity in the setting of painful OA not only improves overall fitness (heart health), but also is important to keep the tissues supporting the joints strong and maintain balance, thus reducing the risk for falls and injury.
Improved fitness and strength has been shown in many studies to improve pain, functioning, sleep and mood.
Besides, the Arthritis Society stated that 90 % of knee replacement patients and 80 percent of hip replacement patients due to OA are either obese or overweight. Therefore, apply a well-rounded nutritious diet can keep you healthy, and help you shed extra pounds.
For OA patients who have to suffer from joint pain, warm showers and heat packs can help reduce that pain, muscle spasms and stiffness while increasing your movement of the joint.
In addition, exercising is also considered as a method to strengthening bone. You can try weight lifting, jumping rope and body weight exercises (squats, lunges, planks, etc). Notice that these activities should be implemented with caution and only under a doctor’s supervision.
Moreover, as joints’ cartilage naturally made from collagen, but when osteoarthritis takes its toll, cartilage destruction is a common occurrence. You should take a supplement to provide collagen for your body, help rebuild the cartilage between your joints and slow the secretion of cartilage-degrading enzymes.