Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that typically affects joints in the knees, hip, hand, feet, and spine. It is the most common form of arthritis. Patients with osteoarthritis experience pain, stiffness, and limited mobility of the affected joint.
Osteoarthritis Risk Factors
- Older age. Osteoarthritis usually occurs in older adults.
- Women. Osteoarthritis occurs more often in women than in men (although among those younger than age 45, men are affected more often than women).
- Obesity. Being overweight increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis.
- Joint injuries. Sports injuries, fractures involving joints, or occupational repetitive stress can lead to osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis begin gradually and worsen slowly over time. Osteoarthritis pain is generally described as:
- A sensation of aching or stiffness
- Pain is worsening during activity and improving with rest
- Occurring intermittently
- Causing a grating sensation when the joint is moved
Diagnosis and Treatment
Osteoarthritis is usually diagnosed based on a physical exam and the results of x-rays. In some cases, the doctor may take a sample of synovial fluid from the joint.
There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but treatment can reduce pain and improve joint movement and quality of life.
Treatment options include:
- Lifestyle modifications and non-drug approaches such as exercise, weight loss, and physical therapy
- Braces to improve stability or realignment of the limb to offload the osteoarthritis
- Medications, including acetaminophen, NSAIDs. or corticosteroid injections
- Surgery, which may be considered for severe osteoarthritis that is not helped by other treatments