Facts

  • Arthritis is the most common cause of disability
  • Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis affects over 27 million individuals around the world

Overview/Description

Arthritis is inflammation of a joint. Joints are found everywhere in the body where two bones meet. There are many forms of arthritis however the most prevalent form is Osteoarthritis (OA).

OA is commonly referred to as wear-and-tear arthritis because it occurs when cartilage between joints wears down over time. Cartilage provides cushion between bones allowing for frictionless movement. If the cartilage wears down enough bone may rub on bone. OA most commonly affects joints in the neck, hands, lower back, knees and hips; this can damage any joint in the body. As time progresses osteoarthritis worsens. There is no cure for OA, however there are treatments available to help relieve pain associated with arthritis. These treatments help to improve joint function, and even slow the progression of the disease.

Types

There are over 100 forms of arthritis. The three most prevalent types of arthritis are:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Juvenile Arthritis (JA)

Symptoms

The symptoms experienced with OA generally develop slowly and worsen over time. Symptoms of OA include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Tenderness
  • Grating Sensation
  • Loss of Flexibility

If you are experiencing joint pain or stiffness that persists for over a few weeks, it is recommended that an appointment be made with a physician.

Diagnosis

A physical examination of the affected joint(s) will be done to check for swelling, tenderness, or redness. The joint’s range of motion may also be examined. If necessary, imaging and lab tests may be ordered by the physician. Imaging test will take a picture of the joint. These images are achieved through an X-ray or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

Causes

Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease that occurs when the cartilage cushioning the ends of bones deteriorates. There is no known cause however there are certain factors that increase an individual’s risk of developing OA. These factors include:

  • Age: risk of developing OA increases with age
  • Gender: women have a higher risk for developing OA compared to men
  • Weight: carrying more weight puts stress on joints

Treatment

Although there is no cure for OA, there are treatments available to help relieve the pain associated with OA.

  • Nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen or narcotics for severe pain
  • Cortisone shots
  • Lubrications shots
  • Osteotomy or realignment of bones for OA in knee joints