Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis, is a degenerative disease that can affect any joint in your body. It occurs when the cartilage lining in your joint starts to wear down, as a result of the bones in your joint rubbing against each other.
This condition mostly affects joints that bear weight or undergo a lot of use. This includes the hands, hips, spine and ankles. Osteoarthritis may occasionally affect a joint that was damaged by an injury or infection.
What are the symptoms of Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time. The signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
- Joint pain that worsens during or after activity.
- Joint pain that is accompanied with swelling and stiffness, especially when you wake up in the morning, or after a period of inactivity.
- Bony lumps forming around the affected joint.
- Loss in joint flexibility.
How is Osteoarthritis diagnosed?
Your doctor will closely examine the affected joint. He or she may check for tenderness, swelling, redness, and your range of motion.
To confirm the diagnosis and rule out other possible causes, the orthopaedic specialist may recommend imaging tests, such as an x-ray or MRI scan.
What treatments are there for Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis cannot be reversed. Treatment for osteoarthritis focuses on managing its symptoms and relieving pain. Treatment for osteoarthritis depends on its severity, as well as the joints involved.
Treatments for osteoarthritis include medications, physiotherapy, glucosamine supplements, injections and joint replacement surgery.
Painkillers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can relieve joint pain, and reduce joint inflammation.
The orthopaedic specialist may refer you to a physiotherapist, who will teach you exercises to reduce stiffness in the affected joints, and increase the strength of the muscles around your joints.
Some people may benefit from glucosamine supplements. The orthopaedic specialist may put you on a trial of this nutritional supplement.
The orthopaedic specialist will numb the area around your joint, place a needle into the space within your joint and inject the medication. The medication is either aimed at relieving joint pain, or providing additional cushioning between your joints, especially your knees.
Joint replacement surgery
The orthopaedic specialist may recommend joint replacement surgery if conservative treatments do not help. The damaged joints will be removed, and replaced with metal or plastic parts. Depending on your condition, the orthopaedic specialist may remove and replace the most damaged parts, or replace the entire joint.
I have knee osteoarthritis. What can I do to ease the pain?
If you have knee osteoarthritis, maintaining a healthy weight will reduce the strain on your hips and knees. Putting a heat pad on the affected joints may also reduce the pain.