What is Osteoarthritis ?

The  word “Arthritis” means  inflammation of the joint.

Osteoarthritis is the degenerative joint disease in which the breakdown of cartilage tissue occurs. It is also called wear-and- tear joint disorder. It is a very common type of arthritis that can affect every joint of the body but mostly weight bearing joints affected like Hip and Knee Joints.

What occurs in Osteoarthritis?

In a normal healthy joint, there is a covering of slippery and smooth tissue called cartilage that provides friction against bony surfaces of the joint. In osteoarthritis these cartilage damage and joints become sti. Other joint forming structures like ligaments, tendons and meniscus may be damaged in osteoarthritis.

What are Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis: The Symptoms, Treatments and knee pain ...

  • Pain in the affected joint. It may worsen at night.
  • Joint stiness
  • Swelling in and around the joint
  • Changes in mobility of joint
  • Crackling or grating sensations
  • Bony spurs or osteophytes formation

What are Risk factors for Osteoarthritis?

  • Older age; osteoarthritis occurs mostly in older people after age 45
  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Overuse or continuous stress on joint
  • Trauma or injury ; people who have history of any injury to joint can develop osteoarthritis
  • Joint abnormality; such as unequal length of legs, bowlegs or any congenital deformity
  • Having family history of osteoarthritis

How Is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?

Knee Osteoarthritis - SLG

 Your physician thoroughly takes history and does physical examination for diagnosis of osteoarthritis, there are certain investigations conducted to determine osteoarthritis:

  • X-ray; in osteoarthritis joint space becomes narrow and can be seen on radiographs including bone spurs, osteophytes and bony outgrowths
  • MRI ; it is expensive investigation using radio waves and magnetic field to view Bones, cartilages, ligaments and soft tissue with clear results
  • Joint fluid analysis; synovial fluid taken from joints to rule out other joint conditions like Gout or Septic arthritis.
  • Complete blood count; although blood tests are not much helpful for osteoarthritis, they are usually performed to exclude other chronic joint diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis etc.

How can Osteoarthritis be Treated?

OA is mainly managed with disease severity and symptoms. Various analgesics, lifestyle modifications and home remedies to provide you from pain relief, swelling in joints and stiness.

Oral pain killers; Paracetamol/ acetaminophen are used for pain relief but they can not reduce inflammation.

NSAIDS( Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs); Helps to relieve pain and play a role in reducing swelling. NSAIDS include ibuprofen, Dexibuprofen , Naproxen and Etoricoxib commonly used.

Topical Pain relievers; in early symptoms or mild osteoarthritis; creams, gels and patches are eective in pain relief.

Oral Steroids; Prednisolone , cortisone and triamcinolone.

Other treatment options; Weight reduction, Physical exercises like swimming and cycling, heat and cold therapy helps to reduce joint swelling and stiness.

Physiotherapy, massage and natural remedies for example fish oil and ginger have benefits for osteoarthritis.

Which Preventive Measures should be taken for Osteoarthritis?

Some risk factors in osteoarthritis are non-modifiable such as genetics and ageing, others are modifiable , so you can take these steps to minimise risk of OA.

  • Control on weight; being overweight or obese put extra force on your joint, so weight management can reduce risk of OA.
  • Balanced diet; healthy and balanced diets such as Fruits, vegetables and Fish oils strengthen your joint cartilages.
  • Physical exercises; gentle stretching exercises have an important role in joint stability.
  • Moderate sleep; getting plenty of rest is helpful in prevention of OA.

The Bottom line

Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative joint disease, there is no 100% treatment option but focusing on prevention, early OA treatment and management of severe symptoms can improve the quality of your life.

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