what is osteoarthritis?

Overview

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common kind of arthritis. It is painful. It occurs as a consequence of the slow disintegration of the insulating cartilage which over time coats the ends of the bones.

When you have osteoarthritis, the cartilage in your joints starts to break down, and the underneath bone begins to alter. These alterations often manifest themselves gradually and progressively worsen over time. Pain, stiffness, and swelling are all common symptoms of osteoarthritis. Additionally, it may result in decreased function and impairment; some individuals are no longer able to do everyday activities or work as a result of this condition.

While osteoarthritis may affect any joint, it is usually linked to joints in the hips, hands, knees and vertebrae.

The symptoms of osteoarthritis may usually be treated, but impairment to the joints cannot be reversed. Active involvement in everyday activities, healthy weight, and specialized treatments may all postpone disease development and help to improve discomfort and joint function.

Causes

It is a degenerative joint disorder that develops over time as the cartilage gradually degrades the margins of the bones in the joints. It is a strong slippery tissue that enables virtually free movement of the joint. If the cartilage is completely worn out, the bones start rubbing against one another.

When it comes to osteoarthritis, the term “wear and tear disease” is often used. However, osteoarthritis causes does not solely result from the wear and tear of cartilage in the joint; it also affects the entire joint structure. This condition causes not only alterations to the bones but also degeneration of the connective tissues responsible for maintaining joint integrity and connecting muscles to bones. Additionally, osteoarthritis leads to inflammation of the joint lining.

Some of the variables that may increase the osteoarthritis risk factors:  

  • Age: The probability of OA increases with age.
  • Sex: Women are more prone to OA than men.
  • Obesity: The body’s excess weight contributes to arthritis in various ways and the chance of disease development is higher. Your weight-bearing joints, such as hip and knee joints, are pushed more as you gain excess weight. Adipose tissue also generates chemicals in and around your joint areas that may cause substantial inflammation.
  • Joint injuries: Injuries like those experienced during sports or as a consequence of an accident may increase the probability of developing osteoarthritis. The risk of osteoarthritis may be raised even if an incident occurred many years ago and seems to have fully healed.
  • Stress: The repeated stress placed on a joint by your work or an activity you participate in may ultimately lead to the development of osteoarthritis.
  • Genetics: Some individuals are predisposed to developing osteoarthritis as a result of their genetic makeup.
  • Deformities of the bones: Some individuals are born with deformed joints or cartilage that has failed to develop properly.
  • Metabolic disorders: Diabetes and other metabolic conditions increase the chances of developing OA.

Symptoms

Osteoarthritis symptoms typically appear slowly but also worsen over time. This is because the disease progresses slowly. Osteoarthritis is characterized by the following signs and symptoms:

  • Pain-afflicted joints may be impacted during or after movement.
  • Stiffness: Joint rigidity may be more obvious if you initially wake up or after an inactive time.
  • Tenderness: If the pressure is moderate, you may notice that it is sensitive.
  • Loss of adaptability: The individual may not be able to move the joint through its whole range of movement.
  • Grating: When you utilize the joint, you may experience a grating feeling as well as popping or crackling sounds.
  • Spurs on the bones: They may develop around the afflicted joint and feel like hard lumps of bone when you press on them.
  • Swelling: This may be caused by inflammation of the soft tissues around the joint.

Diagnosis

In the course of physical examination, your physician will examine the afflicted joints for signs of pain and edema, as well as redness and flexibility.

There may be examinations using imaging techniques – Your doctor may advise you to take photographs of the afflicted joint using the following methods:

  • X-rays:
    The loss of cartilage in your joint is indicated by a tapering of the space between the bones of the joint. Bone spurs adjacent to a joint may also be detected with an X-ray.
  • MRI:
    In order to generate comprehensive pictures of bone as well as soft tissues like cartilage, an MRI scan is performed using radio waves and a strong magnetic field. An MRI is not often required for the osteoarthritis diagnosis, although it may be useful in providing additional information in complicated situations.

Lab examination is also used in OA diagnosis. A blood or joint fluid investigation may be required to confirm OA diagnosis.

Blood testing is carried out. There is no current blood test for osteoarthritis, although some tests may help rule out other possible causes of joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Joint analyses of fluid are conducted. The fluid is drained from an inflammatory joint, as decided by your doctor. The fluid is checked to see whether inflammation causes your pain to osteoarthritis or gouts.

Treatment

In the absence of a cure, physicians often treat the symptoms using a mix of osteoarthritis treatments and medications, which may include over-the-counter pain relievers as well as prescription medications.

The following therapies are commonly used:

  • Physical therapy is a kind of treatment that involves the movement of the body. You may learn exercises from a physical therapist that will help you strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint, improve flexibility, and decrease your discomfort. Swimming or walking may be excellent forms of moderate exercise that you can undertake on your own on a regular basis.
  • Occupational therapy is the treatment option in which the assistance of an occupational therapist may assist you in identifying methods to do daily activities without placing more stress on an already hurting joint.

When To See a Doctor

If you experience any of the OA symptoms, consult your healthcare provider. OA is a degenerative illness that progresses with time, resulting in persistent discomfort in many patients. Osteoarthritis Pain and stiffness may develop extreme enough to make doing everyday activities difficult. Osteoarthritis may cause depression and sleep disruptions as a consequence of the pain and impairment that it causes.

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Disclaimer

This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have concerns about Osteoarthritis or any other medical condition, please see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment suggestions.