Osteoarthritis (OA) is a disease affecting more than 12% of the elderly in the USA. Being the most common form of arthritis it is also one of the leading causes of disability in the elderly. It has been projected that the prevalence of osteoarthritis will rise by 66-100% by 2020.
You might have OA if you experience activity-related joint pain. The pain usually starts during or just after the activity and resolves on rest. If your disease has progressed then you might also experience continuous pain throughout the day and sometimes at night too. You might also experience tenderness in the joints i.e. pain on touching the joint in question. Another common symptom of OA is the stiffness of the joints.
The bones in our many of our joints are surrounded by a joint capsule. Inside it is the bone, a layer of cartilage covering the bone surface and the synovial fluid. The components of the joint capsule along with the supporting structure of a joint, the muscle and ligaments and the tendons, ensure that the joint works smoothly with the least wear and tear.
OA is a degenerative disease that causes degeneration of the cartilage covering the bone surface leading to erosion of the bony surface during movement. This is accompanied by the formation of an outgrowth of the bone by the margin of the joint which might irritate the joint capsule leading to inflammation.
OA affects specific joints in the body, they include : knee joint, hip joint, joint in the lower back, joint in the neck, joints in the fingers of the hands.
The risk of getting OA increases with age. Females are more prone to get OA compared to males. One of the major risk factors for OA is obesity, which is on a rise in the US. OA is a heritable disease and heritability is joint-specific. Previous history to a joint may increase the chances of developing OA.
Your doctor would like to obtain an adequate medical history followed by an examination of the joint involved to consider OA as a possible diagnosis. To confirm this, your doctor would like to order some tests like:
Treatment of OA aims at alleviating the pain and reducing the rate of degeneration of the bones in the joint involved.