What is arthrosis and what can you do about it yourself if you’ve been diagnosed with it. And IS there something you can do about it?

Normal hands without arthrosis
Normal hands without arthrosis. Photo: Depositphotos.com

My story

The discomfort in my hands started after I had done too much stuff at home. I had assembled three Ikea cabinets and cleared out the entire attic. Initially I thought it was just a sprained muscle. But after 6 weeks I figured it might be time to have it looked at. I first went to a physio therapist who didn’t think it was anything serious but weeks later it still had not gotten any better. Time to visit a hand and wrist specialist.

Almost without looking he told me it was arthrosis. I thought he must be wrong. I didn’t feel that old and it didn’t feel that serious either. But an x-ray quickly revealed that it was indeed what he said it was. Damn…

What is arthrosis?

Arthrosis, commonly known as osteoarthritis, is a degenerative joint disease characterized by the breakdown of cartilage, the cushioning tissue at the ends of bones. This condition primarily affects the joints, leading to pain, stiffness, swelling, and decreased mobility. Here’s an overview of arthrosis:

What can cause arthrosis and what are common risk factors?

  1. Aging: The risk of arthrosis increases with age, as the wear and tear on the joints accumulate over time.
  2. Genetics: A family history of arthrosis can increase the likelihood of developing the condition.
  3. Joint Injury: Previous injuries, such as fractures or dislocations, can predispose a person to arthrosis.
  4. Obesity: Excess weight puts additional stress on weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips.
  5. Repetitive Stress: Occupations or activities that involve repetitive movements or overuse of joints can contribute to arthrosis. I guess that is where I went wrong with the Ikea cabinets…
  6. Other Diseases: Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or metabolic disorders can also lead to secondary osteoarthritis.

Symptoms

  1. Pain: Typically worsens with activity and improves with rest.
  2. Stiffness: Often most noticeable after periods of inactivity, such as in the morning.
  3. Swelling: Due to inflammation of the joint lining.
  4. Reduced Range of Motion: Difficulty moving the joint fully.
  5. Joint Deformity: In severe cases, joints can become misshapen.

Diagnosis

  1. Clinical Examination: Physical examination of the affected joints.
  2. Imaging Tests: X-rays to assess joint space narrowing, bone spurs, and other changes; MRI for detailed images of cartilage and other structures.
  3. Lab Tests: Blood tests to rule out other conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, and joint fluid analysis to check for inflammation or infection.
Arthrosis

Treatment

  1. Lifestyle Changes: Weight management and physical activity to reduce joint stress and improve function.
  2. Medications: Pain relievers (acetaminophen), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and corticosteroid injections for inflammation.
  3. Physical Therapy: Exercises to strengthen muscles around the joint, improve flexibility, and reduce pain.
  4. Assistive Devices: Braces, canes, or orthotics to support the affected joints.
  5. Surgical Options: In severe cases, procedures such as joint replacement (arthroplasty) or joint fusion may be considered.

Prevention and Management

  • Healthy Weight: Maintaining a healthy weight to reduce stress on joints.
  • Regular Exercise: Low-impact activities like swimming or cycling to keep joints flexible and muscles strong.
  • Healthy Diet: Adequate intake of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin D and calcium for bone health.
  • Joint Protection: Avoiding repetitive stress and using proper techniques during physical activities.

Now sadly arthrosis is a chronic condition and not something that can heal. Or so I’ve been told. For the coming weeks I am wearing a brace to support the thumb of my right hand. In my case it is located just below my right thumb and the brace should relieve the pain (which is not that bad at the moment) and hopefully get the joint back on track. I have started taking extra vitamins to support the process. I’ll report back after 10 weeks to see if there is anything improved.

I assume that lifestyle changes might have an impact as well, but will be testing the result of that too. Weightloss won’t have an immediate effect on my hands but apparently there is something also related to an increased risk for arthrosis.

There is a difference between arthrosis and arthritis. Which is explained in this article here.

Author

Hi my name is Simone and I am a food photographer and blogger from the Netherlands. I strongly believe in the power of good food and think that making good choices every day will definitely create a healthier future. I've recently turned 61 and now more than ever, realize that health is everything. Check the link below to learn more about my story. I'm a certified health coach and live in the Netherlands with my two cats Humhrey and Buffy.

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