Osteoarthritis

There are over 140 different types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form.

all about Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in our joints starts to break down. The cartilage becomes thinner, rough, and in some instances, bits can break off or the cartilage can wear away altogether. Without the cartilage to act as a shock absorber, joints can become stiff and painful.

The pain is often described as being like having shattered glass between your joints. To compensate for the lack of cartilage, sometimes bones grow thicker at the ends, forming bony spurs that can cause further pain and discomfort.

Osteoarthritis most commonly occurs in joints that carry our weight such as hips and knees, but is also common in fingers, hands and the spine.

Osteoarthritis usually comes on slowly in a joint over a period of months or years.

The most common symptom is a feeling of pain in the joint that gets worse towards the end of the day.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Joint pain, even while at rest
  • Swelling in joints
  • A warm feeling
  • Creaking sound
  • Stiffness or restricted movement of joints
  • Feeling like the joint might give way

Pain with osteoarthritis can be intermittent, and it is not unusual for people to go for years without pain, only for it to come on again.

Your odds of developing Osteoarthritis increase as you get older and your joints age.

Osteoarthritis is more common from age 45+, but it can develop in younger people in joints that have been affected by sporting injuries or accidents in the past.

You are more likely to develop osteoarthritis if you are overweight, as the weight puts extra pressure your joints and causes them to deteriorate faster.

Osteoarthritis can also run in your family. You are more at risk if you have a family member with osteoarthritis.

There are a number of health conditions that can cause joints to become sore or inflamed, so your doctor will most likely start by asking a lot of questions about the type of pain you are experiencing, where the pain is located, if it gets worse or better with movement, if it gets worse or better through the day, and if anyone in your family has osteoarthritis.

Your doctor will also do a physical exam, moving the joint and feeling and listening for signs of your bones rubbing together. If they suspect osteoarthritis, you’ll be sent for an x-ray to view your bones and cartilage around the affected joint.

There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but there are many ways to relive symptoms and stop it from getting worse.

  • Depending on the severity of the cartilage damage, the stiffness of the joint and your size, the doctor will recommend particular exercises or low impact activities to reduce pain and increase the flexibility of the joint.
  • You may also be prescribed painkillers or anti-inflammatories to help with the pain and in some cases, be given a steroid injection into the joint.
  • If you have been suffering for a long time, or the joint is in very poor condition, the doctor may discuss the option of surgery to repair or replace the joint.

Arthritic joints

Osteoarthritis-diagram

USEFUL RESOURCES

Here are some useful brochures and resources that you can download for more information on osteoarthritis

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