Osteoarthritis is widely regarded as one of the most common forms of arthritis affecting people around the world. Often referred to as the wear-and-tear type of arthritis, osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage on the edges of the bones deteriorate over a period of time. Osteoarthritis has the potential to damage any joint in the body and is most commonly seen in the joints of the hands, knees, neck and lower back.
Causes and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
Some of the common causes of osteoarthritis are:
- Preexisting conditions like diabetes, hyperparathyroidism and obesity
- Incidents categorized as macrotrauma (fractures and cartilage damage) or microtrauma (chronic issues resulting from overworking the joint after an accident)
- Infections, chronic gout and conditions that cause inflammation in the joints
- Conditions that affect an individual’s metabolism like Paget’s disease and Wilson’s disease
- Genetic conditions that cause one leg to be shorter
- Hemophilia and sickle cell disease
Though the symptoms of osteoarthritis tend to worsen gradually over a period of time, these are the symptoms you might experience:
- Joint pain after running or performing a strenuous activity
- Tender joints
- Joint stiffness especially in the morning, while exercising or after a period of inactivity
- Reduced flexibility
- Grating sensation in the affected joints
- Bone spurs that feel like hard lumps and make joint movement difficult
The risk factors associated with osteoarthritis are:
- Gender — women are more prone to osteoarthritis
- People born with malformed joints or a defect in their cartilage
- Sports injuries that impact the joints
- Being overweight or obese
- Work that puts pressure on a joint every day
Diagnosis and Treatment of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is usually diagnosed with X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the affected joints. The treatment of osteoarthritis can involve either only medications, therapy and surgery or a combination of the strategies.
Acetaminophen and narcotic drugs are usually prescribed to tackle the pain associated with the condition. Depending on the severity of the condition, doctors may recommend physical or occupational therapy and shoe inserts or braces to support gait and posture. More severe cases might need joint replacement surgeries, injections to lubricate the impacted joints and bone realignment for relieving pain and improving flexibility.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis tend to worsen over time and there is no complete cure for the condition. But hope definitely lies in the available treatment strategies that can help manage and reduce the symptoms and even slow down the progress of the condition.
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