Did you know over 54 million adults in the US have osteoarthritis (OA)? In addition, over 24 million adults are limited in the activities they can do because of OA.
When you're in pain, it's all too easy to feel alone. But you can take charge of your symptoms by getting the osteoarthritis tests you need to get the answers you deserve.
Remember, there is help available for the pain that osteoarthritis brings. But your most powerful tool is educating yourself about OA and what you can do to manage your symptoms.
So if you want to learn more about osteoarthritis and osteoarthritis tests, keep reading this guide to find out everything you need to know!
What is Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that protects your joints wears down over the years.
Cartilage is the slippery tissue that allows your joints to remain moving in a fluid motion. When your cartilage breaks down, it enables your bone to surfaces to become rough and jagged.
Cartilage doesn't have blood vessels or blood supplies, so for this reason, damaged cartilage can't repair itself.
Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint, but it's most common in your spine, hips, hands, and knees.
It's vital to remember OA is progressive. OA progresses in stages from 0 to 4. The first stage indicates a normal joint, and stage 4 means severe OA. As OA goes through the stages, you'll have increased pain, swelling, inflammation, decreased range of motion, and unstable joints.
Causes of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is often referred to as wear and tear disease. As you age, your joints naturally start to break down.
But there are risk factors and other disease conditions that put you at higher risk for developing OA.
Risk factors for Osteoarthritis
Risk factors that can make osteoarthritis a reality include:
Obesity is one of the most significant risk factors as it puts extra stress on your joints, especially the knees and hips.
Past joint injuries or surgery can put you at greater risk for OA, as can congenital joint abnormalities at birth.
A job or hobby that requires you to make repeated motions over and over again can increase your chances of getting OA.
If you have had a joint inflammatory condition like rheumatoid arthritis, it can lead to your joints breaking down faster.
Diabetes and changes in hormone levels can cause inflammation and lead to arthritis. And menopause brings changes to the estrogen levels that protect your bones and joints. Once estrogen levels fall, you're at higher risk for OA.
When you have osteoarthritis, the symptoms slowly worsen in time in stages. But when you have osteoarthritis, you'll notice things like:
- Joint pain with movement
- Joint stiffness, especially after waking up in the morning
- Your joints lose flexibility
- Your joints feel tender upon touch
- You may notice your joints pop and crack
- Joint swelling
Sometimes extra bits of bone (bone spurs) form around your joints which feel like hard lumps. If your joint pain and stiffness won't let up, then it's time to contact your doctor.
Complications of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is degenerative, meaning it continues to get worse over time. Joint pain can become severe, making daily tasks almost impossible.
The damage from osteoarthritis can't be reversed, but treatments are available to reduce your joint pain and improve your quality of life.
The first line of treatment includes medications to help relieve your symptoms. Your doctor will typically recommend over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol, Advil, or prescription anti-inflammatory medication, depending on your situation.
The next line of treatment involves physical therapy for exercises to strengthen the muscles around your joint and improve flexibility.
You may also need occupational therapy if you're having trouble with everyday tasks. An occupational therapist will help you learn different ways of moving to put less stress on your joints.
Some people might need assistive devices like a bench in the shower to alleviate the strain.
If medications and therapy don't work for you, other treatments are available, like steroid injections into your joints. In severe cases, joint replacement surgery may be the best solution.
One of the most important things you can do to manage the symptoms and progression of OA is making lifestyle changes. Exercise and weight loss go a long way in reducing the pain and stiffness that come with OA.
Gentle exercise like swimming or walking is a great way to keep active. You can also try biking or water aerobics. But the important thing is to make it a part of your daily routine. The worst thing you can do when you have OA is sitting and not moving.
When you carry extra weight, you put stress on your already arthritic joints. Even losing just 10lbs can make a massive difference for your joints. If you struggle with weight, talk to your doctor or a dietician to help you come up with a plan.
Yoga, tai chi, and deep breathing work amazingly well to improve your joint flexibility and stress at the same time. Choose yoga that's gentle and easy and avoid any movements that stress your joints.
Applying both heat and cold to your joints can relax your muscles and reduce pain. You can do this after exercise or at the end of the day.
Some people also find relief from using Capsaicin cream. Capsaicin is the active ingredient in chili peppers, and when applied as a topical cream, it can change the way your body responds to pain.
Many people find relief using this cream, but it can cause some skin irritation. So talk to your doctor first if you think it might be for you.
You'll first see your doctor and have a physical exam. Your doctor will check your joints for tenderness, swelling, and redness.
To get a clear picture of your joints, your doctor may order X-rays to rule out any other problems. If you have severe symptoms, you might also have an MRI to look at your bones and soft tissues.
Although there isn't one single blood test that can diagnose arthritis, your doctor will order a series of blood tests to rule out other issues like rheumatoid arthritis.
Lab Tests for Osteoarthritis
In general, the goal of ordering a blood osteoarthritis test is to distinguish osteoarthritis from other inflammatory or autoimmune conditions.
A comprehensive Osteoarthritis panel from Ulta Lab Tests is a great way to get all the tests you need.
First, your doctor will want to check your rheumatoid factor (RF). This test will determine if your symptoms are caused by rheumatoid arthritis RA instead. Your rheumatoid factor will be negative with RA.
Another test commonly ordered is an Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test. The ESR detects inflammation in your body and will be increased with RA, but not with osteoarthritis. Also, a C-reactive protein (CRP) detects inflammation and is elevated with RA.
Your doctor will also check your complete blood count (CBC) and comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP). These panels will assess your overall health status and see how well you'll be able to tolerate any OA medications you might need.
Sometimes your doctor may want to do a joint fluid analysis. OA, infections, and other inflammatory conditions can change the way your joint fluid appears. Fluid is drawn out from your joint and analyzed under a microscope.
Did you know osteoarthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, and more women are more likely to develop OA than men?
Joint surgery is effective and considered to be one of the most successful operations in medicine today. For example, if you get hip replacement surgery, you have over a 95% chance of success at a full recovery.
You've likely heard that cracking your joints causes arthritis? This is a myth, so you don't have to worry that your knuckle-cracking habit will land you with OA.
It's also a myth that osteoarthritis isn't a serious health problem. While OA may take a back seat to cancer and heart disease, it still affects over 50 million people a year and with healthcare costs of over 150 billion.
Ulta Lab Tests offers tests that are highly accurate and reliable so you can make informed decisions about your health.
- Secure and confidential results
- No insurance referral is needed
- Affordable pricing
- 100% satisfaction guarantee
For your osteoarthritis testing needs, choose Ulta Lab Tests. We offer accurate
and reliable tests that give results you can trust.
And the best part is you don't need insurance or a referral. Our affordable prices include a doctor's order, so you're never alone.
Once you order your osteoarthritis tests, you'll have secure and confidential results available to you within 24 to 48 hours in most cases.
Take control of your health today with Ulta Lab Tests.