What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a long-term chronic disease characterized by the deterioration of cartilage in joints which results in bones rubbing together and creating stiffness, pain, and impaired movement. The disease most commonly affects the joints in the knees, hands, feet, and spine and is relatively common in shoulder and hip joints. While OA is related to ageing, it is also associated with a variety of both modifiable and non-
modifiable risk factors, including: obesity, lack of exercise, genetic predisposition, bone density, occupational injury, trauma, and gender
What are the symptoms and signs of Osteoarthritis (OA)?
Symptoms of osteoarthritis vary, depending on which joints are affected and how severely they are affected. However, the most common symptoms are;
- pain and stiffness, particularly first thing in the morning or after resting.
- Affected joints may get swollen, especially after extended activity. These symptoms tend to build over time rather than show up suddenly.
Some of the common symptoms include:
- Sore or stiff joints – particularly the hips, knees, and lower back – after inactivity or overuse.
- Limited range of motion or stiffness that goes away after movement
- Clicking or cracking sound when a joint bends
- Mild swelling around a joint
- Pain that is worse after activity or toward the end of the day
Here are ways OA may affect different parts of the body:
- Hips. Pain is felt in the groin area or buttocks and sometimes on the inside of the knee or thigh.
- Knees. A “grating” or “scraping” sensation occurs when moving the knee.
- Fingers. Bony growths (spurs) at the edge of joints can cause fingers to become swollen, tender and red. There may be pain at the base of the thumb.
- Feet. Pain and tenderness is felt in the large joint at the base of the big toe. There may be swelling in ankles or toes.
OA pain, swelling or stiffness may make it difficult to perform ordinary tasks at work or at home.
Simple acts like tucking in bed sheets, opening a box of food, grasping a computer mouse or driving a car can become nearly impossible.
When the lower body joints are affected, activities such as walking, climbing stairs and lifting objects may become difficult.
When finger and hand joints are affected, osteoarthritis can make it difficult to grasp and hold objects, such as a pencil, or to do delicate tasks, such as needlework.
Many people believe that the effects of osteoarthritis are inevitable, so they don’t do anything to manage it.
OA symptoms can hinder work, social life and family life if steps are not taken to prevent joint damage, manage pain and increase flexibility.
What are the causes of Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones in your joints gradually deteriorates. Cartilage is a firm, slippery tissue that permits nearly frictionless joint motion.
In osteoarthritis, the slick surface of the cartilage becomes rough. Eventually, if the cartilage wears down completely, you may be left with bone rubbing on bone.
What are the risk factors that can increase my chances of getting Osteoarthritis?
Factors that may increase your risk of osteoarthritis include:
- Older age. The risk of osteoarthritis increases with age.
- Sex. Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis, though it isn’t clear why.
- Obesity. Carrying extra body weight contributes to osteoarthritis in several ways, and the more you weigh, the greater your risk. Increased weight puts added stress on weight-bearing joints, such as your hips and knees. In addition, fat tissue produces proteins that may cause harmful inflammation in and around your joints.
- Joint injuries. Injuries, such as those that occur when playing sports or from an accident, may increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Even injuries that occurred many years ago and seemingly healed can increase your risk of osteoarthritis.
- Certain occupations. If your job includes tasks that place repetitive stress on a particular joint, that joint may eventually develop osteoarthritis.
- Genetics. Some people inherit a tendency to develop osteoarthritis.
- Bone deformities. Some people are born with malformed joints or defective cartilage, which can increase the risk of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease that affects a lot of adults, most especially women. If you’re at risk of having osteoarthritis, you can prevent it.