Osteoarthritis, also known as osteoarthrosis or degenerative arthritis is a medical condition characterized by wear and tear injury of the cartilages located in between the adjacent bones in a joint and also degenerative damage to the subchondral bone, part of the long bone located beneath the cartilages. This is the most common type of arthritis and millions of people around the world suffer from this type of arthritis.
Any joint of the body can be affected by osteoarthritis still the most commonly affected joints are those of the hands, neck, lower back, knees and hips. Osteoarthritis occur due to interplay of several factors, namely family history of the disease, presence of certain metabolic diseases like diabetes and mechanical problems in the particular joint. Common presenting symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain and swelling of the affected joint, loss of function and increased stiffness of the joint leading to restricted movement of the joint etc.
As such there is no cure for the disease and the progression of the disease cannot be arrested with currently available treatment, however, treatment options are available to slow the progression of the disease, relieve the symptoms and thus improve the function of the affected joint and quality of life to some extent.
1. The symptoms of osteoarthritis usually develop very slowly over years. The most common presenting symptoms include
2. Pain in the affected joint, usually during walking or during using that particular joint. The pain usually becomes worse over time leading to the loss of joint function and increased stiffness. Affected persons usually describe pain as sharp in nature, sometimes it is also described as a burning sensation. The pain may increase following exposure to sudden drop in temperature or increased humidity or change in atmospheric pressure etc.
3. Pain when pressure is applied over the affected joint.
4. Stiffness of the joint occurs, usually in the early morning or after a prolonged period of inactivity. The affected joints feel better with light movement, however prolonged or overuse may worsen the symptoms.
5. Loss of flexibility of the joint lead to limited range of movement of the joint.
Many people experience grating sensation in the affected joints during movement of the joint. Sometimes a cracking noise known as crepitus is heard during movement or by touching of the joint.
6. In some patients, fluid may collect in the joint space of the affected joints. This is the most common cause of fluid collection in the knee joint (joint effusion).
In osteoarthritis typically the large weight bearing joints namely the hips, knees and joints of the hands, spine are affected, although other than these joints any joints in the body can be affected.
In smaller joints, like in the hand, bony swellings namely the Heberden’s nodes located in the distant finger joints and Bouchard’s nodes located in the proximal finger joints may appear. These bone swellings are not painful, however, their location may further limit the movement of the already stiff joint. In some of the affected people these physical symptoms may appear before pain in the joints.
With time the symptoms deteriorate to such an extent that even the slightest movements of the affected joints become impossible. Pain and stiffness of the joints are the main cause of restricted function of the affected joints