What Is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis or OA is one of the most common forms of arthritis that affects millions of people worldwide. It is also called wear and tear arthritis or degenerative joint disease.
The connection between the two bones is called a joint. Their primary purpose is to allow different movements and degrees — the ends of the bones are covered with cartilage. OA causes the breakdown of cartilage, and this makes the bone in the joints rub against each other. It is the disease occurring in adults, but can also happen to people of all age groups.
What Causes OA?
Age: The risk of osteoarthritis increases with age.
Gender: Women are at a higher risk of developing OA as compared to men of the same age group.
Obesity: Being overweight is the primary cause of several diseases, including osteoarthritis. The more you weigh, the more you have the chance of getting the disease.
Genetic Mutations: If you have someone in your family with OA, you are at a considerable risk of being affected by the disease. Specific forms of osteoarthritis can happen just by changes in a single gene. This gene influence a protein called collagen. Several joints may get affected by this mutation and that too, at an earlier age.
Joint Injury: Injuries from sports or accident can immensely improve your risk of osteoarthritis. You may feel that you have healed from the past injury, but they can be the cause of your disease.
Joint Abnormalities: If you have some joint abnormalities by birth or have developed during your childhood, you can get osteoarthritis in the future.
What Are The Warning Signs & Symptoms of OA?
Stiffness: The moment you wake up or involve yourself in some activity, you will experience stiffness in joints. It is one of the most recognizable symptoms.
Pain: Multiple joints may get affected by the disease. You may feel pain in those joints during or after any physical activity.
Tenderness: You may feel sensitivity in the joints when slight pressure applies to them. Inflexibility: Every bone has a range of rotation. The affected joints cannot move through their fields of rotation properly.
Swelling: IN OA, you can have swelling in the joints. It happens as there is a deterioration of cartilage cushions present at the end of the bones.
Bone impulses: Hard lumps of bones can build around the affected joints.
Sense Of Grating: You may hear a crackling sound when you make movements with the affected joints.
If you experience one or more of these symptoms, consult your doctor and get the disease diagnosed at the earliest.
How Is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?
First, you will undergo a physical exam where the doctor tests your joins for stiffness, tenderness, flexibility, etc. He may take the following tests to confirm the diagnosis of osteoarthritis:
No blood tests can help detect OA, but it can help the doctor to eradicate several other conditions that mimic osteoarthritis. You can experience joint pain due to many different reasons. It's essential to preclude other causes of joint pain to ensure proper treatment.
Joint Fluid Analysis
Joint fluid analysis or Synovial fluid analysis is a set of tests done to detect problems in the joints. The synovial fluid keeps your bones lubricated and ensures its smooth movement. It is present on each of the joints, including hands, feet, shoulders, hips, knees, etc. In some cases, gout, bleeding disorders, and infections can lead to osteoarthritis-like symptoms.
During this test, a small sample of the synovial fluid is tested for the reason behind your symptoms.
It is one of the most effective ways of diagnosis osteoarthritis. Several pictures of affected joints are taken to detect the issue.
Cartilage does not appear in the x-ray. You can know its loss by a reduction in the space between the bones. If there is a build-up of bone lumps around the joints, an x-ray can help the doctor to detect this.
The doctor may take your MRI to take detailed pictures of bones and soft tissues, including cartilage. It uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to click photographs. MRI is not preferred in most of the cases but can be helpful in complex situations.
How Is OA Treated?
Once you get osteoarthritis, you get it for a lifetime. But treatments can help reduce the pain and suffering of the disease. You will be able to make smoother movements of your joints.
Be involved in one or the other physical activity. It is the simplest and most effective way to manage osteoarthritis. You may think that it would be challenging to perform physical activities in this condition, but it's somewhat necessary. Take a walk in your neighborhood, enroll yourself in a gym, and other similar events, and significantly manage your body weight and pain. It will make you more flexible and reduce the stiffness of the body.
Keep stretching your joints and make your body flexible to do smooth body movements.
Excess weight adds stress to the weight-bearing joints. Have a healthy diet and burn calories to manage proper body weight and reduce the risk of osteoarthritis.
Being optimistic can enhance your defense mechanism or immunity. It makes people capable of managing pain.
When severe damage causes to joints, the doctor opts for the surgical method. An orthopedic surgeon will perform the surgery to repair or replace your affected joints.
- Acetaminophen: Take acetaminophen as per the prescription of a doctor. It can help people with mild to moderate pain. Excessive amounts of the drug can damage your liver.
- Duloxetine: It is an antidepressant that can also be used to reduce chronic pain from osteoarthritis.
- Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs: To get some relief from pain, take NSAID as per the recommendation of your doctor. The drug can reduce inflammation caused by injury or arthritis.