What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a common orthopedic condition that affects joints causing pain, stiffness and swelling restricting the person’s ability to move. Arthritis is a general term used for a group of over 100 musculoskeletal conditions. Osteoarthritis makes cartilage, tough shock absorbing material covering the ends of our bones to wear off. Loss of the cartilage can cause pain with joints rubbing off each other. Osteoarthritis can be quite painful and disabling. Osteoarthritis if left untreated progressively limits the patient’s ability to move. While arthritic pain can be managed with medications, therapy and lifestyle modifications, ultimately surgical treatment may be necessary.
What Causes Osteoarthritis ?
Cartilage is a firm but flexible connective tissue protecting the joints by working as a shock absorber if we move or put stress on the joints. Wearing off of the cartilage in the bone joints causes Osteoarthritis. All the joints can be affected by Osteoarthritis. However, the pain is more on the weight bearing joints like spine, hip & knee compared to other joints affected by Osteoarthritis.
Normal wear and tear of cartilage can cause Osteoarthritis. An infection or injury to the joints can speed up the process. Even though hereditary causes of the condition are not proven, your risk of developing Osteoarthritis may be higher if you have a family history of the disease. It also tends to develop as people grow older. Osteoarthritis can affect young people too, as cartilage may wear off due to an injury or from overuse of a joint during sports or work.
What are the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?
Symptoms of arthritis differ based on the type of arthritis. The symptoms can be mild for some people and very strong in others. Most of the symptoms are limited to the joints and won’t affect the other parts of the body. Symptoms of arthritis may develop gradually or appear suddenly. Symptoms may come and go or persist.
Symptoms of arthritis include:
- Joint Pain
- Redness around the joints
- Difficulty moving the joint
How is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?
A physical examination is conducted to find the cause the pain and how this pain is affecting the patient’s mobility. The patient might be asked to go through X-rays or CT scan (computerized tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to see and assess the damage to the joints & the type of arthritis that caused it.
How is Osteoarthritis Treated?
Arthritis treatment depends on the type of arthritis, how bad the pain is, and the patient’s overall physical health. The treatment will address various aspects of arthritis like arthritis pain, improving joint movement & strength etc…
Treatment options may include medicine usage, exercise, heat/cold, use of joint protection, and surgery. Treatment plans will be designed to include one or more of these treatments.
Because Osteoarthritis is a progressively degenerative condition, it may get worse with time. When non-surgical treatments are no longer an option, surgery is the last resort. The type of surgery depends on the type of arthritis, its severity, and general health of the patient.