As much as most people would like their bodies to power through marathons without pain, bones and joints can begin to degenerate over time. Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of a few common disorders affecting the bones and joints that leads to severe pain and limited mobility. Take a look at some surprising facts about this painful disease.

Osteoarthritis Affects 27 Million Americans

Known as the most common chronic joint condition, osteoarthritis affects approximately 27 million Americans, or about one in 12 individuals in the U.S. The pain caused by osteoarthritis is due to a gradual degeneration of the cartilage that otherwise protects and cushions joints.

Women are at Greater Risk to Develop OA

Over the age of 50, women experience osteoarthritis in greater numbers than their male counterparts. Additional risk factors for osteoarthritis include obesity, age, physical activity, and genetics. Osteoarthritis is most commonly diagnosed after age 65 in both men and women and, as a degenerative disease, becomes more severe over time if not treated.

Very Active Adults May Experience OA before 50

People who are very physically active may develop osteoarthritis well before age 50. Famous individuals with OA include Shaquille O’Neal and Joe Namath both known for impressive careers in sports. Although physical activity is typically recommended for individuals living with OA, the type of activity may need to change to something less stressful on joints, such as swimming or bicycling.

Osteoarthritis Can Lead to Permanent Joint Damage

Advanced OA may result in permanent joint damage or bone spurs. Also called osteophytes, bone spurs develop when bone rubs on bone, which occurs after the cartilage has completely worn away. Some people do not have any symptoms and may not know they have bone spurs, while others experience severe pain that restricts mobility.

Many Treatment Options for OA Exist

When first diagnosed with osteoarthritis, the news can cause panic and fear that the only way to get relief is to take pain medication or have surgery. This simply isn’t true. For some individuals, decreasing the amount of stress placed on joints (e.g. by losing weight, changing types of physical activity, etc.) can help alleviate pain. There are also alternative, non-surgical treatments that provide long-term relief.

If you or someone you love is suffering from osteoarthritis, schedule an appointment with HealthStar Clinic. Our interdisciplinary team of experts is comprised of board-certified pain management doctors, award-winning chiropractors, and caring physical therapists who work together to develop a treatment plan that fits your needs.