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What is arthrosis?

Arthrosis, also known as osteoarthritis, is a joint disease caused by chronic wear of cartilage.

Unlike arthritis pain, which is often nocturnal and appears more or less continuous, arthrosis pain is often felt during the day and emphasizes during joint movement efforts.

The most common cases are arthrosis of the knee, arthrosis of the hip and facet arthrosis, affecting the joints of the spine. Some individuals also suffer from cervical arthrosis, which causes pain and stiffness in the neck and lumbar arthrosis that generally manifests in the lower back. Several other joints of the body can be affected by this disease including fingers, ankles, wrists and shoulders.

A common disease

In Canada, 1 in 10 people suffer from a form of arthrosis. Although symptoms usually appear between the ages of 40 and 50, they can manifest earlier. In general, women that are 55 years old and older are more affected and the majority of people over 70 are affected by it.

How is it formed?

Arthrosis is in fact the wear of a cartilage that loses its flexibility and efficiency. It also affects the entire group of joints, the ligaments, the bones, the muscles and the synovial fluid (the fluid that naturally lubricates the joint). A weight surplus and a lack of physical activity are important factors that contribute to the evolution of arthrosis. Engaging in repetitive movements or suffering from frequent strains can also cause abnormal wear leading to this disease.

Several cases of arthrosis result from repetitive work (arthrosis of the hip among postmen or lumbar arthrosis among warehousemen) or to the contrary, as a result of repetitive movements (cervical arthrosis among heavy truck drivers). In these particular cases, health experts such as occupational therapists or ergonomists can assist you with finding solutions to maintain maximum comfort at work.

Pain and symptoms often associated with arthrosis

The symptoms associated with the disease vary from person to another. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the most frequent:

  • You experience pain in a joint when you are moving. For example: knee pain when you go down the stairs.
  • You experience discomfort in the joints during temperature changes.
  • A light pressure on a joint gives you discomfort.
  • You feel stiffness in the joints after a period of immobility or upon awakening. It is normal to be less flexible in the morning; however, this stiffness shouldn't last more than 30 minutes.
  • You observe small bone spurs (osteophyte) on the joint.
  • Cracks are heard when there is effort. This occurs mainly in arthrosis of the knee.
  • You will notice redness or swelling of the joint. However, these symptoms are rare.

Preventing and reducing arthrosis symptoms

Maintain a healthy weight:

Being overweight creates a mechanical stress on the joints and causes premature wear. Maintaining an ideal body weight promotes healthy joints. Weight loss, if it is justified, will help reduce the symptoms. Cases of arthrosis of the hip and knee arthrosis are common in people suffering from obesity.

Practicing a regular physical activity:

It can be hard to stay active when pain is felt. The regular practice of a physical activity is crucial to your overall health, but also to nourish and strengthen the muscles and thus relieve joints. Although it is uncomfortable at first, moving regularly reduces pain and the effects of arthrosis.

It is important to choose a sport suited to your problem. If you suffer from knee arthrosis, you may need to avoid sports such as running or skiing. In the case of lumbar arthrosis: biking, golf and tennis are not recommended. In all cases of arthrosis, swimming is a great sport to practice; as it seeks several muscles at once without creating direct impact on the joints.

Taking care of your joints:

When possible, try to avoid repetitive movements or movements seeking a specific joint.