Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic joint disorder with progressive softening and disintegration of articular cartilage accompanied by the new growth of bone at the joint margins and capsular fibrosis. Osteoarthritis may be asymmetrically or symmetrically distributed and often localized to only one part of the joint. It is related to abnormal loading. OA is a dynamic phenomenon; it shows features of both destruction and repair.
What Are the Causes of Osteoarthritis?
Age is the most common factor associated with OA. As one gets older, the cartilage, meant to prevent the articular bones from rubbing against each other, gradually starts to wear off, causing a reduction in the lubricant oil in the joint. This does not mean that age is the only factor that affects OA. OA is the commonest of all the conditions affecting the joints. It is truly a universal disorder, affecting both sexes and all races. Everyone who lives a long enough life is expected to suffer from it sometime in life.
What Are the Risk Factors of Osteoarthritis?
Being a weight-bearing joint, congenital bony disorders, trauma, certain occupations that cause repetitive stress on the knee, knee bending activities, weak bones, obesity, and a family history of OA are a few risk factors that increase the chance of getting OA.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?
Knee pain is usually the presenting symptom in the early stages. Other symptoms include stiffness, swelling, restriction of knee movements, and difficulty in daily activities, like getting up from a sitting position. The deformity may occur in the late stages.
Which Tests Are Required to Diagnose Osteoarthritis?
The tests required to diagnose osteoarthritis are discussed below.
Often X-rays show its characteristic features and will give the doctor a primary idea of the onset of the disease.
In some cases, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT(computed tomography) scans may be advised.
Bone DEXA (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) scans may be needed in severe cases to see the strength of bones.
What Is the Treatment of Osteoarthritis?
The treatment of osteoarthritis depends on its stage. The treatments differ in early and late stages, which are discussed below.
Early Stage: In the early stages, one should maintain movement and muscle strength and protect joints from overload. Medicines can be used to relieve pain, and modification in daily activities will help.
Physiotherapy, massage, hot fomentation, infrared, short wave diathermy, knee supports, and caps will be helpful to alleviate pain.
General measures like weight reduction in obese patients, wearing shock-absorbing shoes, and avoiding activities like climbing stairs and sitting crossed-legged on the floor will help a lot.
The latest is intra-articular synovial fluid or hyaluronic injections given in the joint yearly or monthly, which will help delay the surgery and slow down the destruction of the joint to some extent.
Late Stage: In the late stages, progressive joint destruction, increasing pain, instability, and deformity usually require treatment options like joint replacement. The destroyed joint is replaced by a new synthetic one. This knee replacement surgery has transformed the lives of millions of patients till now and continues to be a blessing for such patients.
How to Prevent Osteoarthritis?
Wear and tear of the joints increases as a person gets older. OA cannot entirely be prevented. However, one can minimize joint strain by taking proper care of oneself. Below are some tips for the same.
The joints are strained if the body is overweight. It is particularly dangerous to the hips, knees, ankles, and feet. Additionally, excess fat alters the cartilage. Hence, keeping a healthy body weight can reduce the risk of OA.
The chance of developing OA is increased by high blood sugar levels. Therefore, monitoring and maintaining blood sugar is important in lowering the risk of OA.
The best method to avoid joint issues is through exercise. It aids in preventing joint stiffness. It maintains muscle strength. It has a significant role in the management of arthritis. It is advised to workout for at least 30 minutes daily, if possible, or four to five days a week.
The chance of developing OA is increased by joint injury. Hence, one should be careful while doing activities that can result in a joint injury, like lifting heavy weights or walking on a slippery floor, etc.
One should not ignore joint pain, whether mild or severe. For instance, if a person gets joint pain that persists for one to two hours following an activity or workout, it indicates that the person may have overdone it. Hence, the joint must be allowed to rest, and to ease pain; an ice pack should be applied. This can prevent any strain on joints, minimizing the risk of OA.
Posture also plays an important role in preventing the risk of OA. Additionally, avoiding prolonged periods in one position might help individuals keep good posture at all times. When spending the entire day at a desk, people should ensure their chairs are properly adjusted and take frequent breaks to stand up and move around.
What Is the Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) result in stiffness and joint pain. Although both of them are types of arthritis, their causes and treatments vary. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition. On the other hand, OA results when the protecting cartilage gradually deteriorates, forcing the bones to rub against one another. The symptoms of OA often only affect the joints, and it typically affects fewer joints. The symptoms of RA can be more extensive, and the disease's development is more unpredictable. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicines are given for treating OA; however, corticosteroids, antirheumatic drugs, painkillers, and anti-inflammatory drugs are used to treat RA.
The most prevalent type of arthritis, osteoarthritis, affects millions of individuals worldwide. The symptoms of osteoarthritis may usually be treated, but the joint deterioration cannot be reversed. Being physically active, keeping a healthy weight, and obtaining specific therapies may decrease the disease's course and help with pain relief and joint function.
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