Introduction In clinical and medical terminology, the word “osteo” means “bone” and the suffix “itis” indicates inflammation. Therefore, Osteoarthritis means “inflammation of the bones”. However, it is a disease which is much more severe than the simple explanation of “inflammation of the bones”. There are over 100 forms of arthritis, and Osteoarthritis is considered the most common arthritis among those living with arthritis.
What happens in osteoarthritis? Each bone in the body is covered by a slippery tissue called cartilage. The cartilage is on the ends of the bone in a joint, which allows the healthy mobility of the joint. Because osteoarthritis often affects the cartilage the top layer of the cartilage breaks down and is worn away. The joint is no longer protected from the shock of movement and the bones under the cartilage begin to rub together causing loss of motion, swelling and pain of the joint. With time, the shape of the joint may be lost. Spurs may also begin to grow on the edges of the joint. Bits of cartilage or bone can also break off into the joint space which increases pain and damage. Osteoarthritis affects the joints only. Patients suffering with osteoarthritis do not have the threat to their internal organs with the condition as with some forms of arthritis. The disease occurs most often in the spine, hips, knees and hands.
Who is at risk? Although young people can get osteoarthritis, it mostly occurs in older people.
What Causes Osteoarthritis? Osteoarthritis is a condition that generally occurs over time. Risk factors that may lead to the development of the disease include: 1. Stresses on the joints from certain jobs 2. Stresses on the joints from playing sports 3. A genetic defect in joint cartilage 4. Joint injury 5. Aging 6. Being Overweight
Osteoarthritis symptoms: There are symptoms as well as warning signs of the disease which include: • A crunching sound or feeling when the bones rub together • Tenderness or swelling in one or more joints • Stiffness in a joint after getting out of bed or sitting for a long time
How Is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed? There are several methods that physicians use to diagnose Osteoarthritis which include: • Taking a medical history of the patient • Performing a physical exam on the patient • Taking X rays • Taking exams of the fluid in the joints or blood tests and other various tests which will help to determine if the disease is present. How is osteoarthritis treated? A combination of treatments is often designed to fit the needs, health and lifestyle of the patient. Treatment plans may include: • Surgery • Complementary and alternative therapies • Medicines • Nondrug pain relieve techniques to control pain • Rest and joint care • Weight control • Exercise