Osteoarthritis (or OA) is a condition in which the joints of the body become worn down.
Osteoarthritis (or OA) is a condition in which the joints of the body become worn down. This can occur due to regular wear and tear as a person gets older, or it can occur as a result of injury to the joint. This can lead to pain when moving the joint, and have a large effect on someone’s life. It is important to understand how this disease progresses in order to know what treatments may be available to you.
HOW DOES IT HAPPEN
Like many disorders there are may ways in which osteoarthritis can occur. The most common is age related degeneration of the joint. This is regular ear and tear as we get older, and this reduces the protective lining of the joint surface (known as cartilage) that protect the bones in our joint. As the smooth cartilage wears down, the bones begin to rub against one another. Unlike the cartilage, which is smooth and lubricated like a well oiled machine, bones do not rub smoothly and can cause pain and stiffness.
Osteoarthritis can also occur if you have injured the joints, for instance with a fracture inside the joint, or with ligament injury. The injury and inflammation can increase the risk of osteoarthritis occurring. Other factors that increase the risk of osteoarthritis include bone deformities (such as knock knees), inflammatory disorders of the body and joint (such as gout), and increased wear an tear (such as in overweight people).
The main symptoms of osteoarthritis are pain and stiffness in the joint. This can affect a persons daily living and activities, and have a significant impact on their life. Other symptoms of arthritis include pain worsening with use of joint, pain when standing from chair, climbing or descending stairs, and significant night pain.
Your doctor will examine the affected joints and request X-Rays or MRI scans of the joint. Sometimes they may request blood tests to look for inflammation.
Treatment will depend on the degree of osteoarthritis and how it is affecting the individual. For some painkillers may be sufficient in controlling the symptoms. These are usually anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Sometimes steroid injections may be given into the joint to reduce the inflammation if simple painkillers are not enough.
Patients may find they need to use walking aids, such as a walking stick, or modify their daily activities. Regular exercise and physiotherapy can also be beneficial to maintain the range of movement in the affected joint. For overweight patients weight loss can lead to significantly reduced wear on the joint, leading to a reduction in pain.
If these treatments are still not effective then an orthopedic consult may be required. The orthopedic surgeon may recommend surgery on the joint if they believe the other treatment options have not helped the patient. Keyhole surgery is generally not effective in treating knee osteoarthritis, but sometimes this may be effective depending on your individual case. Those patients who are younger and have knock knee or bow leg deformities may benefit from surgical resection and resetting of the bone to correct the alignment (osteotomy). This can reduce the wear of osteoarthritis without needing to replace the body’s original joint surface.
Joint replacement surgery is the established treatment of choice for advanced, symptomatic osteoarthritis.
If you have any queries or want to know which treatment option is right for your osteoarthritis, our joint replacement specialists at secondmedic.com are willing to help. Please visit secondmedic.com for an opinion regarding your joint problems by a UK specialist Orthopedic Surgeon.
Dr Rakesh Choudhary, Founder Second Medic
MBBS, MS, FRCS, FRCS Trauma and Orthopedics, MCh Orthopedics
Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon. UK
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