Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes: Braces for Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis: An Overview
Osteoarthritis: An Overview
Osteoarthritis is a condition that breaks down cartilage in joints, eventually causing the bones to rub against each other. Symptoms include swelling, stiffness, reduced range of motion, and pain. Over time, joints can become permanently damaged.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It can affect joints in any part of the body. Treatment includes medication, physical therapy, and in some cases, surgery. Braces can temporarily relieve pressure and ease pain associated with arthritis.
Read on to learn when a brace is a good idea and when it isn’t.
Osteoarthritis can cause deterioration to cartilage in the neck and wear and tear on the bones. Arthritis of the neck (cervical spondylosis) can make it difficult to comfortably turn your neck from side to side. Although it can be painful and troubling, arthritis of the neck generally doesn’t cause major disability.
Using a soft collar can help keep your head still and permit your neck muscles to relax. A collar can provide temporary relief, but using it too often can cause your neck muscles to weaken.
When osteoarthritis wears away cartilage in the shoulder joints, bone rubs on bone. This friction can seriously limit your range of motion and interfere with normal activities, including sleep. Arthritis in the shoulder can be very painful.
Treatment includes pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, and exercise. Your doctor or physical therapist can teach you how to exercise your shoulder safely. Braces are not generally recommended for shoulder arthritis.
Osteoarthritis in the knees can make it hard to walk. Your knees may feel as though they may buckle. In time, your legs may take on a knock-kneed or bowlegged appearance.
A knee brace may take some of the pressure off your knee and relieve pain. For some people, a brace makes it easier to stand, walk, and move around. The downside is that it may feel awkward and hot. If the brace doesn’t fit properly, it may irritate your skin.
Even if you wear a knee brace, your doctor will likely recommend physical therapy as well.
Each foot contains 28 bones and over 30 joints. Arthritis can occur in the ankle, a toe, or anywhere in between. No matter which part of the foot is affected, arthritis can impact the way you walk.
A splint may help keep an arthritic toe in place. Ankle braces can help you feel more stable and relieve ankle stress. Other treatments for arthritis in the feet include pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and physical therapy. Over-the-counter (OTC) or custom shoe inserts are another option, and a walking cane can help you feel more secure.
Osteoarthritis can cause stiffness, swelling, and pain in your elbow. It may be difficult to bend or fully straighten it. It also may be difficult to carry or lift things. As arthritis progresses, elbow pain can interfere with sleep.
Elbow braces may provide support and help reduce swelling. Your doctor can also provide custom splints that can be worn during sleep or for physical activity. Other treatments for osteoarthritis in the elbow include medications and exercise.
When osteoarthritis strikes the wrists, simple tasks can become overwhelming. The wrist joint may become inflamed and weak. You may have difficulty with movement, lifting, and small motor tasks.
If medications and physical therapy don’t improve the situation, your doctor may recommend a steroid injection. Using a splint or brace for short periods of time can relieve symptoms and allow you to function.
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- Arthritis of the wrist. (2011, November). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Retrieved February 11, 2014, from http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00218
- Cervical Spondylosis (Arthritis of the Neck). (2009, November). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Retrieved February 11, 2014, from http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00369
- Elbow arthritis. (n.d.). University of Washington Medicine — Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. Retrieved February 10, 2014, from http://www.orthop.washington.edu/?q=patient-care/hand/elbow-arthritis.html
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- Shoulder arthritis: Osteoarthritis. (2013, December 12). University of Washington Medicine — Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. Retrieved February 11, 2014, from http://www.orthop.washington.edu/?q=patient-care/articles/shoulder/shoulder-arthritis-osteoarthritis.html