Everything You Need To Know About Osteoarthritis

  • Osteoarthritis is the most common arthritis.
  • Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage tissues deteriorate, causing bone-on-bone contact.
  • The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis include joint pain and stiffness, and problems moving the joint. 

Osteoarthritis is the most common arthritis. This condition occurs when the cartilage tissues in one or more joints deteriorate, causing bones within the joint to rub together. The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis include joint pain and stiffness, and problems moving the joint. 

Osteoarthritis is sometimes referred to as wear-and-tear arthritis, most common in older adults (> 65 years old). Osteoarthritis is referred to as degenerative joint disease (DJD), degenerative arthritis, or osteoarthrosis.

Osteoarthritis Symptoms

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Osteoarthritis damages the cartilage tissues, most commonly in your hands, feet, knees, hips and spine. Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Joint pain or tenderness
  • Stiffness
  • Limited range of motion
  • Joint swelling or enlargement
  • Crepitus (abnormal popping or crackling sound in the joints)
  • Joint deformity or malalignment

What Causes Osteoarthritis?

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Osteoarthritis comes with cartilage tissues that deteriorate over time. These tissues are “cushions” that protect the ends of bones within a joint, allowing movement and shock absorption. Total loss of the cartilage cushion causes bone-on-bone contact, leading to severe chronic pain, limitation of joint mobility, and disability.

This aforementioned explanation for cartilage degeneration is accurate, but incomplete. There are other factors under consideration in understanding what causes osteoarthritis.

Risk Factors For Osteoarthritis

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There are contributing factors to osteoarthritis development that increase predisposition:

  • Age. The disease becomes more common as people get older. Published data on osteoarthritis show increased chances of disease development in male patients (>50 years old) and female patients (>40 years old). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 50% of older adults (>65 years old) reported structural changes
  • Gender. Osteoarthritis affects male and female patients. However, statistics illustrates more hand and knee osteoarthritis cases in female patients, while there are essentially equal number of hip osteoarthritis cases in male and female patients.
  • Previous Injuries. Post-traumatic osteoarthritis can develop in patients with deteriorated cartilage tissues from a previous or existing condition.
  • Occupational activities. Repetitive joint-intensive activates (e.g., lifting, kneeling, climbing) increases the chances of osteoarthritis development.
  • Obesity. Being overweight or obese increases mechanical stress on weight-bearing joints. This increases the chances of osteoarthritis development. Recently, hand osteoarthritis is also connected with obesity, suggesting a metabolic connection.
  • Genetic predisposition: Epigenetic researches associated variations in genetic sequences to increased chances of osteoarthritis development.

How Is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?

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Osteoarthritis treatment is centered on symptom management which is dependent on early diagnosis and intervention. However, premature osteoarthritis can be difficult to diagnose unless post-traumatic conditions are identified.

Today, early structural changes consistent with osteoarthritis are identified using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. X-rays are ordered for osteoarthritis diagnosis, but these only produce evidence of disease in advanced stages.

Osteoarthritis Treatments

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Osteoarthritis is irreversible. The prognosis for someone with osteoarthritis is different from person to person. For this reason, rheumatologists develop personal treatment plans based on the symptoms present and most suited for the patient. Osteoarthritis treatments and medications include:

  • Oral NSAIDs
  • Acetaminophen
  • Topical NSAIDs and capsaicin
  • Weak opioids and narcotic analgesics for refractory pain (resistant to ordinary treatment)
  • Intraarticular (into the joint) injections of corticosteroids or injections of hyaluronan
  • Total joint replacement
  • Osteotomy and other surgical procedures to preserve joints

Osteoarthritis is irreversible, but there are at-home treatments and lifestyle changes that could help improve your condition. These include:

  • Aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and water exercise
  • Weight reduction
  • Walking aids
  • Physical therapy
  • Treatments for Osteoarthritis

Coping With Osteoarthritis

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The first thing to remember is that ignoring osteoarthritis is counterproductive. Besides, there are steps that you could follow to make yourself feel better. The sooner the osteoarthritis diagnosis, the sooner you understand the disease, and improve your quality of life.

Physical activities could help improve the condition of the muscles around your joints. This could also help you maintain a healthy weight, since putting on extra pounds adds strain and cause pain. The most important part of treatment is positive outlook.

Source: Very Well Health

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