Symptoms and Treatment of Osteoarthritis

Dr. John Watterson, MD, FRCPC, discusses diagnosis and symptoms of osteoarthritis.

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Dr. John Watterson, MD, FRCPC, discusses diagnosis and symptoms of osteoarthritis.
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Featuring Dr. John Watterson, MD, FRCPC

Duration: 1 minute, 37 seconds

Osteoarthritis of the hands is a form of degenerative arthritis.  

It's very common in populations; in particular, aging populations, a disorder of degenerative arthritis affecting the end joints and the middle joints of the hands and the base of the thumbs. The diagnosis is based upon clinical symptoms, generally pain, stiffness, and loss of dexterity in the hands.  

A physician will make the diagnosis clinically or may ask for certain blood tests or X-rays. The blood tests are generally normal, as it is not a systemic disease. It's only affecting joints. And X-rays are very characteristic. 

The treatment of osteoarthritis is based upon symptoms. We don't know of anything that's disease - modifying for osteoarthritis, so really, we're treating symptoms.

Many individuals will not have symptoms. Others will have quite severe symptoms. And the treatment for those individuals varies from simple over-the-counter analgesic and anti-inflammatory agents to prescription-strength anti-inflammatory drugs. 

Before starting off medications, you should consult your general practitioner to make sure there are no contraindications to you utilizing over-the-counter or prescription-strength analgesic or anti-inflammatory drugs.

In individuals with significant degenerative arthritis at the base of the thumbs, there are some surgical and splinting interventions which can also help improve both symptoms and hand function.  

If you think you have symptoms of osteoarthritis of the hands, it is important to seek medical attention, as there is treatment available for this disorder. 

Find out more about hip pain, surgery and treatment.

Presenter: Dr. John Watterson, Rheumatologist, Victoria, BC

Local Practitioners: Rheumatologist

97-100 People got two or more of these video questions wrong... ( 33 participated.)

Quiz: Do You Understand Osteoporosis?

Questions
 
True
False
1

Osteoporosis is more common in men than in women.

Explanation:

Osteoporosis is more common in women than in men, because hormone changes during menopause affect bone density.

2

Osteoporosis can affect mental health.

Explanation:

There is a link between an osteoporosis diagnosis and mental health. People with osteoporosis may become depressed due to limitations in daily life, a fear of falling or embarrassment over postural changes.

3

Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption.

Explanation:

Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and assists the function of bone cells. There are only a few food sources of vitamin D, including fatty fish and cow's milk or plant-based milk. A little sun exposure also gives you a good dose of vitamin D. If you don't get enough vitamin D from food sources or sunlight, you may need to take a supplement.

4

Weight-bearing exercise should be avoided if you have osteoporosis.

Explanation:

Weight-bearing exercises such as tennis or step aerobics can be very beneficial for people with osteoporosis, but ask your doctor first. Weight-bearing exercises are those that you do on your feet. This makes your bones and muscles work against gravity to keep you upright, strengthening them over time.

5

High-sodium foods are bad for your bones.

Explanation:

Salt causes excessive calcium excretion through the kidneys. Because calcium is essential for bone strength, too much salt can weaken bones and lead to osteoporosis.

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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