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Osteoarthritis Definition

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a kind of arthritis that affects the joints, particularly the weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, and spine, as well as the hands and feet. It is a chronic and progressive condition characterised by the slow deterioration of the cartilage that cushions the joints, resulting in pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility.

Osteoarthritis Definition

Cartilage is a form of connective tissue that covers the ends of bones and serves as a shock absorber when moving. In OA, the cartilage deteriorates and wears away over time, causing the bones to rub against one another and resulting in pain, inflammation, and bone damage. Although the illness can affect people of any age, elderly people are more likely to contract it.

Major Causes of Osteoarthritis

Millions of people worldwide suffer from osteoarthritis (OA), a prevalent degenerative joint disease. There are a number of factors that can contribute to the development of Osteoarthritis, even if its precise cause is not entirely understood. The following is a description of some of the major Osteoarthritis causes.


The chance of developing Osteoarthritis increases significantly with age. As we become older, the cartilage that protects and cushions our joints deteriorates, making it more susceptible to injury, wear, and strain. A person's likelihood of acquiring OA increases as they age because the body becomes less capable of repairing damaged cartilage.


The onset of Osteoarthritis may be influenced by genetics, according to some evidence. Specific genetic variations that affect the production and activity of enzymes required for cartilage repair and maintenance may have an impact on a person's susceptibility to cartilage damage and disintegration.

Joint Injury

It is more likely that a joint will develop Osteoarthritis if there has been prior damage to it, such as a ligament tear or fracture. It is possible for joint injury and cartilage breakdown to occur as a result of trauma to the cartilage or changes in the mechanics of the joint.

Joint Overuse

Another factor in the onset of Osteoarthritis is the overuse of a joint repeatedly. This is particularly true for weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips, which experience continuous stress from exercises like jogging or jumping. Inflammation and cartilage deterioration can develop from microtrauma to joint tissues brought on by overuse.


The risk of OA is significantly increased by obesity, particularly in weight-bearing joints. The joints are put under additional strain from an excessive body weight, which damages the cartilage and speeds up wear and tear. A further association between obesity and persistent low-grade inflammation has been found, and this inflammation may play a role in joint deterioration and injury.

Joint Misalignment

The likelihood of developing Osteoarthritis may be increased by joint misalignment or the wrong way around which the bones are positioned in a joint. Bone misalignment can lead to an uneven distribution of load and tension on the joint surfaces, which can lead to cartilage deterioration and joint degeneration.

Other Medical Conditions

Osteoarthritis development risk may be increased by some medical conditions. A secondary diagnosis of Osteoarthritis is more common in those with rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic autoimmune condition. Other medical conditions that can increase the risk of Osteoarthritis include congenital diseases like hip dysplasia and metabolic diseases like diabetes and gout.

Hormonal Changes

OA may develop as a result of hormonal changes, particularly in women. Following menopause, the hormone oestrogen, which is crucial for bone health, decreases, which may hasten bone loss and cartilage deterioration.

Environmental Factors

The onset of Osteoarthritis may also be influenced by exposure to particular toxins or chemicals, for instance. For instance, lead and cadmium exposure?two heavy metals ubiquitous in various industrial settings?has been linked to a higher risk of OA.

Common Symptoms Associated with Osteoarthritis

A person's age, general health, and other characteristics, as well as the location and severity of the joint injury, can all affect how they feel when they have Osteoarthritis. Listed here are a few of the most typical Osteoarthritis symptoms.

Joint Pain

A common indicator of Osteoarthritis is joint pain. The discomfort, which may be described as a dull ache or a sharp, stabbing sensation, might get worse during or right after physical exercise as well as during periods of inactivity. The painful joint may also be stiff or sensitive.

Joint Stiffness

Joint stiffness is a typical Osteoarthritis symptom. It may be more difficult to move the affected joint through its full range of motion in the morning or after periods of inactivity due to the stiffness. The stiffness may be accompanied by a tightness or tension in the joint.

Joint Tenderness

Joint pain is a typical sign of Osteoarthritis, especially when the afflicted joint is touched or under pressure. Localised or widespread joint tenderness is possible.

Reduced Flexibility and Range of Motion

Loss of range of motion and flexibility in the affected joint can result from Osteoarthritis. Reaching and bending might become challenging as a result. The joint may feel tight or stiff as a result of the reduced range of motion.

Swelling and Inflammation

The common signs of Osteoarthritis include swelling and inflammation, particularly in the latter stages. There may only be swelling in the injured joint or it may be widespread. The joint may feel warm to the touch due to the inflammation, and the skin may become red or discoloured.

Crunching or Popping Sensations

When moving the painful joint, some Osteoarthritis sufferers may experience a crunching or popping sensation. Because of the loss of cartilage, the bones rub against one another, causing this.

Bone Spurs or Bony Growths

Bony growths or spurs around the affected joint may develop as a result of Osteoarthritis in some cases. These growths may need to be surgically removed because they might add to joint pain and stiffness.

Muscle Weakness

Osteoarthritis can result in muscle weakness in the affected joint due to decreased mobility and range of motion. As a result, some actions may be challenging to complete, and with time, the joint degeneration may worsen.

Numbness or Tingling

Rarely, Osteoarthritis -related numbness or tingling may develop in the affected joint or nearby areas. An examination by a doctor is necessary because this can be a sign of nerve compression or injury.

Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis

Diagnosis of osteoarthritis typically involves a combination of patient history, physical examination, and diagnostic imaging.

Patient History

One of the first steps in diagnosing osteoarthritis is obtaining a detailed patient history. This involves asking the patient about their symptoms when they first began, and how they have progressed over time. The doctor will also ask about any previous injuries or surgeries to the affected joint, as well as any family history of joint disorders. It is important to understand the patient's medical history, as other medical conditions such as diabetes or obesity may affect the progression of osteoarthritis.

Physical Examination

A physical examination is usually the next step in diagnosing osteoarthritis. The doctor will examine the affected joint for signs of inflammation, such as redness, swelling, or warmth. They will also assess the joint's range of motion and perform tests to assess the joint's stability and strength. During the physical exam, the doctor may also test for the presence of joint crepitus, which is a popping or cracking sound that occurs with joint movement.

Diagnostic Imaging

If osteoarthritis is suspected, the doctor may order diagnostic imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis. The most commonly used imaging tests include X-rays, MRI, and CT scans.


X-rays are often the first imaging test ordered when osteoarthritis is suspected. X-rays are useful for detecting changes in the bones that occur with osteoarthritis, such as joint space narrowing, osteophyte formation, and subchondral sclerosis. X-rays can also be used to monitor the progression of osteoarthritis over time.


MRI is a more detailed imaging test that can detect changes in the soft tissues surrounding the joint, such as the cartilage and ligaments. MRI can also be used to identify early signs of osteoarthritis before they are visible on X-rays.

CT Scans

CT scans provide a detailed 3D image of the joint and can be used to detect bone spurs, cysts, and other abnormalities that may be contributing to osteoarthritis symptoms.

Laboratory Tests

In some cases, the doctor may order laboratory tests to rule out other medical conditions that may be contributing to joint pain and stiffness. Blood tests may be ordered to test for rheumatoid factor or anti-CCP antibodies, which are indicators of autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. Blood tests may also be used to assess kidney and liver function, as some medications used to treat osteoarthritis can be hard on these organs.

Joint Aspiration:

In some cases, the doctor may perform a joint aspiration, which involves using a needle to withdraw fluid from the joint. The fluid can be tested for signs of infection or inflammation, and can also help relieve pain and swelling.

Treatment of Osteoarthritis

Treatment for osteoarthritis typically involves a combination of lifestyle changes, medications, and therapies.

1. Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes can be an effective way to manage the symptoms of osteoarthritis. The following lifestyle modifications may be recommended:

  • Exercise: In order to alleviate discomfort and enhance mobility, regular exercise might assist to strengthen the muscles surrounding the injured joint. Walking, cycling, and other low-impact activities are frequently advised.
  • Weight Loss: Obesity reduction can ease osteoarthritis symptoms and lessen stress on the afflicted joint.
  • Rest and Activity Modification:The affected joint's discomfort and inflammation can be reduced with rest and modified exercise. To lessen the tension on the joint, the doctor may advise avoiding activities that aggravate it and suggesting pauses when necessary.
  • Assistive Devices:Braces, canes, and splints are examples of assistive equipment that can be used to support an injured joint and lessen pain while doing daily activities.

2. Medications

Several medications can be used to manage the symptoms of osteoarthritis. These include:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol):Those with mild to moderate symptoms may experience pain relief with this. To avoid side effects and drug interactions, a person should take their prescriptions exactly as prescribed by their doctor.
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications:A stronger painkiller, such as: may be suggested by the doctor if paracetamol is ineffective.
  • Capsicum Cream:This is a topical drug that includes the chili's active ingredient. Substance P, a molecule that serves as a pain messenger, is reduced by the heat sensation it produces. Individuals should not apply the cream to skin that is injured or inflamed, and after using it, they should not contact their eyes, face, or genitalia.
  • Cortisone Injections Into The Joints:Extreme pain, edema, and inflammation can be controlled with corticosteroid injections in the joint. Visit this page to learn more about knee injections for OA.
  • Pain Relievers:Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen, both available over the counter, can help lessen discomfort and inflammation in the injured joint.
  • Topical Medications: To assist relieve pain and inflammation, topical drugs like creams and gels containing NSAIDs or capsaicin can be applied directly to the injured joint.
  • Corticosteroids: To aid in reducing discomfort and inflammation, corticosteroids can be injected directly into the troubled joint. But these injections' effects are typically transient, and they might not be suitable for all patients.
  • Hyaluronic Acid:The afflicted joint may benefit from lubrication and cushioning from hyaluronic acid injections. Patients who have not responded to other forms of treatment might be given this recommendation.

3. Therapies

Several therapies can be used to manage the symptoms of osteoarthritis. These include:

  • Physical Therapy:Physical therapy can help improve strength and flexibility in the affected joint, which can help reduce pain and improve mobility.
  • Occupational Therapy: Occupational therapy can help patients learn new ways to perform daily activities that reduce the strain on the affected joint.
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS):TENS is a noninvasive therapy that uses electrical stimulation to reduce pain and improve mobility in the affected joint.
  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific points in the body to help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Surgery: In severe cases of osteoarthritis, surgery may be necessary. The following surgical procedures may be recommended:
  • Joint Replacement:Joint replacement involves removing the damaged joint and replacing it with an artificial joint. This procedure is usually recommended for patients who have severe joint damage and have not responded to other forms of treatment.
  • Joint Fusion:Joint fusion involves fusing the affected joint to prevent movement and reduce pain. This procedure may be recommended for patients who have severe joint damage and are not candidates for joint replacement.


Osteoarthritis is a prevalent illness that results in stiffness and pain as joints degrade. It typically first manifests in middle age or later.Although there is presently no treatment, scientists are working to find ways to lessen or even undo the damage. Treatment options for managing pain include drugs, procedures, and lifestyle changes like stretching, exercise, and nutritional supplements.

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