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Ahh the joy of joints…they bend, they move…and sometimes they hurt.

If you suffer from joint pain you are not alone. Joint pain is actually so common it affects hundreds of thousands of people throughout Canada. There are many causes of joint pain, with the two most common being:  injury, and disease of the joint (or of the tissues that surround the joint). But, identifying joint pain is trickier than it sounds as you need to first truly determine if the pain you’re experiencing is actually in the joint.

Joints, by definition, are areas where two bones meet to provide motion to a particular body part, for instance: knees, ankles, elbows, shoulders, hips and wrists.  The essential stuff (!) But joints are separated by cartilage and ligaments that attach the bones around the joint. Then there are tendons that helpfully attach muscle to the bone around the joint.  The problem is: cartilage, ligaments and tendons are ALL also prone to injury, so the sensation of pain in the joint region does not automatically mean you have injured the joint itself.   If you self-diagnose and try and treat the area the
wrong way, you won’t be solving the problem.

The causes of true joint pain are most frequently linked to disease, such as arthritis.  This used to be thought of as something our grandparents would get however that myth is quickly being corrected, as arthritis is one of the most common joint diseases today in people of various ages. The word arthritis actually means “joint inflammation”, and there are over 100 different types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is very common and causes joint pain.

At about this point many folks reading this who suffer from joint pain or pain in a joint area are starting to wonder “do I have osteoarthritis?” Good question.  Here’s what we can tell you:

Osteoarthritis is a “non-inflammatory” type of arthritis, which means that inflammation is not the primary concern.  The most worrisome – although predictable – component to osteoarthritis is its degenerative nature.  Because osteoarthritis is caused over time by continual wear and tear of the joint (which is bound to happen in one’s lifetime someway, somehow) it becomes most prevalent in men and women over the age of 45.  The repetitive wear and tear is also a major reason why so many athletes (famous for overusing joints that are key excelling in the sport to which they are committed) are affected by osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a disease that develops over time, when the cartilage in the joint begins to break down, commonly during the aging process.  Osteoarthritis can also appear as a result of injury or infection to the joint, or as a result of a simple case of weak genetics. Obesity and weight are also blamed for contributing to osteoarthritis since the greater a person’s weight, the greater the strain put on his or her joints.

Osteoarthritis usually affects weight bearing joints like the knee.

Some of the symptoms of osteoarthritis include:  aches, pains, stiffness, enlargement and/or swelling. Osteoarthritis sufferers often report one or more of these symptoms in the joint, which may occur when performing every day functions such as walking up the stairs, sitting or standing, and lifting objects around the house. Pain in the joint may not be experienced directly in the joint. Pain in the knee, thigh or groin could in fact be caused by osteoarthritis in the hip.

Physicians who specialize in sports medicine often are experts in osteoarthritis, since the athletes are some of the most vulnerable to developing it.  They will review your medical history and perform imaging or lab tests to diagnose with certainty whether you do, in fact, have osteoarthritis. Seeking help for your osteoarthritis will help you reduce or eliminate symptoms, which in turn will significantly improve your overall quality of life.  Why would you wait?

For more information about the causes of joint pain or to find out if you have osteoarthritis please call 416-800-0800 or visit www.aesm.ca today.

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