Published on Mar 10, 2016
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and is associated with the aging process. Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease causing the deterioration of the cartilage within a joint. For most people, the cause of osteoarthritis is unknown, but metabolic, genetic, chemical, and mechanical factors play a role in its development. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include loss of flexibility, limited movement, and pain and swelling within the joint. The condition results from injury to the cartilage, which normally absorbs stress and covers the bones, so they can move smoothly. The cartilage of the affected joint is roughened and becomes worn down. As the disease progresses, the cartilage becomes completely worn down and the bone rubs on bone. Bony spurs usually develop around the margins of the joint. Part of the pain results from these bone spurs, which can restrict the joint’s movement as well. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a type of joint disease that results from breakdown of joint cartilage and underlying bone. The most common symptoms are joint pain and stiffness. Initially, symptoms may occur only following exercise, but over time may become constant. Other symptoms may include joint swelling, decreased range of motion, and when the back is affected weakness or numbness of the arms and legs. The most commonly involved joints are those near the ends of the fingers, at the base of the thumb, neck, lower back, knee, and hips. Joints on one side of the body are often more affected than those on the other. Usually the symptoms come on over years. It can affect work and normal daily activities. Unlike other types of arthritis, only the joints are typically affected. Causes include previous joint injury, abnormal joint or limb development, and inherited factors. Risk is greater in those who are overweight, have one leg of a different length, and have jobs that result in high levels of joint stress. Osteoarthritis is believed to be caused by mechanical stress on the joint and low grade inflammatory processes. It develops as cartilage is lost and the underlying bone becomes affected. As pain may make it difficult to exercise, muscle loss may occur. Diagnosis is typically based on signs and symptoms, with medical imaging and other tests occasionally used to either support or rule out other problems. In contrast to rheumatoid arthritis, which is primarily an inflammatory condition, in osteoarthritis, the joints do not typically become hot or red. Treatment includes exercise, efforts to decrease joint stress, support groups, and pain medications. Efforts to decrease joint stress include resting and the use of a cane. Weight loss may help in those who are overweight. Pain medications may include paracetamol (acetaminophen) as well as NSAIDs such as naproxen or ibuprofen. Long-term opioid use is generally discouraged due to lack of information on benefits as well as risks of addiction and other side effects. If pain interferes with normal life despite other treatments, joint replacement surgery may help. An artificial joint typically lasts 10 to 15 years. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis with disease of the knee and hip affecting about 3.8% of people as of 2010. Among those over 60 years old, about 10% of males and 18% of females are affected. It is the cause of about 2% of years lived with disability. In Australia, about 1.9 million people are affected, and in the United States, 30 to 52.5 million people are affected. It becomes more common in both sexes as people become older. The main symptom is pain, causing loss of ability and often stiffness. “Pain” is generally described as a sharp ache or a burning sensation in the associated muscles and tendons, and is typically made worse by prolonged activity and relieved by rest. Stiffness is most common in the morning, and typically lasts less than thirty minutes after beginning daily activities, but may return after periods of inactivity. Osteoarthritis can cause a crackling noise (called “crepitus”) when the affected joint is moved or touched and people may experience muscle spasms and contractions in the tendons. Occasionally, the joints may also be filled with fluid. Some people report increased pain associated with cold temperature, high humidity, and/or a drop in barometric pressure, but studies have had mixed results. Osteoarthritis commonly affects the hands, feet, spine, and the large weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees, although in theory, any joint in the body can be affected. As osteoarthritis progresses, the affected joints appear larger, are stiff, painful and may swell, but usually feel better with gentle use but worse with excessive or prolonged use, thus distinguishing it from rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of a joint effusion of the knee. Sometimes called degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common chronic condition of the joints.