What is osteoarthritis? Yes, it affects women more than men

Refuge, 72, tripped over some stones on the sidewalk when she was walking to the supermarket. She couldn’t keep her balance and fell over, breaking her right elbow.

Shelter tried to get up but couldn’t and had to ask a lady passing by for help. The lady put her in a taxi, which took her home.

She called her daughter from home and asked her to take her to hospital. There, her arm was immobilized in a fiberglass cast, because the material is lighter than plaster, causing less pain in her osteoarthritic shoulder.

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This happened at the beginning of the year, in the State of Mexico. The doctors removed the fiberglass from Refugio’s arm three weeks ago. Although her elbow has healed, she suffered intense pain as the weight of the fiberglass, although light, increased the discomfort in her shoulder caused by the osteoarthritis.

Ace Shelter tells Tec Review: “My shoulder hurt horribly. I’m still suffering from lot of pain because of the weight I was carrying. They say that the fiberglass weighs less than plaster, but it weighed a lot to me. “

She also talked about being diagnosed with osteoarthritis 20 years ago.

What is osteoarthritis?

It is a chronic inflammatory illness that affects joints in the knees, hands, shoulders, ankles, hips, and spinal column. There is no cure. The cause is simply aging.

Pain symptoms are intensified by factors such as being overweight or repeatedly carrying heavy objects, which cause greater joint damage because of the wearing out of cartilage.

According to data from Living Without Limits, a specialist page about osteoarthritis, it is estimated that 10% of the Mexican population suffer from this illness, although it is more frequent in women (11.7%) than in men (8.7%).

Symptoms can manifest themselves from the age of 40 and can even cause patients to become wheelchair bound.

The side effects of treatment

Treatment of this illness consists mainly of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. The latter have given Shelter lots of stomach problems.

“I’m not taking the medicines any longer because they’ve destroyed my stomach. I’ve had gastrointestinal bleeding twice and a burst ulcer from so much medicine. That’s why I’ve suspended the treatment. “

According to the specialists she has consulted, the best thing Refugio can do is continue with gentle rehabilitation exercises and not put on any more weight, so that her joints don’t have to carry an even bigger load.

When we interviewed Roberto Grijalva Moreno, an orthopedic surgeon, he explained that the illness can also be treated with injections of hyaluronic acid into the joints, which aids their movement. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

Prostheses are a last resort

“In the case of advanced osteoarthritis, surgery can restore movement to patients. However, it’ll never be better than what Mother Nature originally provided, so the best things to do is to always try to keep the joint in the best condition possible. “

Prostheses are inserted into the joints during surgery. This doesn’t involve removing the entire bone, as people sometimes believe.

“The prostheses replace the caps of the joint surfaces that are worn out. Those surfaces can be replaced by metal or even plastic components. There are also ceramic prostheses, ”explains Grijalva Moreno.

Currently, there are some fashionable substances which help improve the quality of cartilage. However, Grijalva clarifies that there are no products to regenerate cartilage.

“Yes, there are substances to harden the cartilage or maintain a healthier joint environment. These often provide better lubrication to the joint, reducing friction so the cartilage has a longer useful life, ”he says.

According to the expert, food supplements that include avocado oil help to clean synovial fluid, also known as joint fluid, which is found between the joints. These reduce the friction between them.

“There are other substances like glucosamine that help to harden the cartilage,” he adds.

Finally, Grijalva emphasizes that preventive medicine is always better than curative medicine. That is why he recommends patients with osteoarthritis see their doctor so they can be given the best possible treatment, rather than immediately opting for surgery.

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