Osteoarthritis is also called degenerative joint disease and osteoarthrosis. It is characterized by the deterioration of cartilage in the joints, resulting in pain and reduced or loss of function. This condition primarily affects weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, feet, and back, and the joints in the fingers and hands.
Osteoarthritis worst affects movable synovial joints. Here in these joints, the ends of the bones are covered with cartilage. Synovial fluid carries nourishes the cartilage, preventing it from becoming dry and brittle and keeping its surface lubricated so the joints can work smoothly. The joint capsule encloses the joint, protects it, and keeps the synovial fluid within the joint.
With the disease progress, crevices and bone spurs (osteophytes) may develop within the affected joint, resulting in increasing pain and decreasing mobility.
Incidence and Prevalence
This condition is more common in people middle-aged and older. After the age of 45, osteoarthritis affects more women than men.
Causes and Risk Factors
Deterioration of the cartilage in the joint is the main cause resulting in osteoarthritis. The major risk factor is aging. Approximately 70% of people over the age of 65 show some signs of osteoarthritis upon x-ray examination. Other risk factors are:
- Congenital or developmental disorders
- Female sex
- Major trauma
- Metabolic or endocrine disorders
- Repetitive overuse
Signs and Symptoms
In some cases osteoarthritis can be asymptomatic and may be diagnosed incidentally upon x-ray. When symptoms occur, they can range from mild to severe Pain – which is described as a deep ache confined to the affected joint. Pain tends to increase with use of the joint and subsides with rest; however, as the disease progresses, pain may become persistent. Osteoarthritis may cause pain at night that interferes with sleep.
Stiffness in the joint may occur due to inactivity
Osteoarthritis is diagnosed using x-rays.
Mostly the opted treatment option used is NSAID or lately we have seen an increase in the use of Glucosamine and Chondroitin combination. These do relieve pain yet they do not offer much reduction in discomfort.