Osteoarthritis is the commonest arthritis that is caused by a degenerative process with ageing. Your joints play a main role in weight bearing and with your age the articular cartilages of your joints tend to get damaged. Women above age 50 are commonly affected by this arthritis. If you have a family history of osteoarthritis then there’s much possibility of developing osteoarthritis in your later ages.
How osteoarthritis is caused?
If you are obese you can develop osteoarthritis in your knee and hand in later stages of your life. Hip joint is rarely affected due to increased BMI. Abnormal and excessive weight bearing and stress to joints will also play a key role in developing osteoarthritis. Your joint cartilages are made of collagen fibers(proteins) enclosing proteoglycans and water. They act as a smooth surface and a shock absorbance layer to your joint. In osteoarthritis this cartilage gets degraded more easily than a normal healthy person. In later stages of the disease ulcerations, overgrowth of bone, cavitation occurs.
Menopausal women tend to get osteoarthritis if they are not on hormone replacement therapy.If you have osteoporosis, then there’s reduced risk of developing osteoarthritis. If you get a fracture of any joint, then you are more susceptible to develop osteoarthritis. If you are a sportsperson who uses your joints repetitively, you can develop osteoarthritis easily.
What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?
You will get joint pain with movement or weight bearing. You will find it commonly on your hip and knee joints. If you find morning stiffness for less than 15 minutes, you should suspect osteoarthritis. If the pain and weakness cause you functional limitations, then it’s time to meet your Rheumatologist.
Investigations to diagnose Osteoarthritis
Blood tests such as ESR, CRP will be done to exclude other types of arthritis. Your doctor may or may not do x-rays if the joints. MRI. Arthroscopy and aspiration of synovial fluid can be done according to your osteoarthritis severity.
Treatment for Osteoarthritis
Weight loss and muscle strengthening exercises play a key role in treatment of osteoarthritis. Local heat, NSAIDS gels, massage can be used for pain relief. The evidence for using acupuncture in treating osteoarthritis is high according to recent research. You can get the help of a walking stick if you find it difficult to work. Don’t be immobile because you are too lazy.
Improve your good mental health, as it increases healing of your joints. Paracetamol, coxibs, NSAIDs are commonly prescribed by doctors though the research based incidence of benefits is low.
Intra- joint injections will give you short term pain relief. Your doctor will go for surgery- joint replacement if you have severe osteoarthritis. It will reduce joint stiffness and pain drastically. Elderly patients can be more independent after the surgery as it increases the mobility and functions of the joint.