10 Things you should know about Osteoarthritis

  1. Osteoarthritis is the oldest known medical condition with cases being found in ancient human remains, including Egyptian mummies and even evidence of the disease having been discovered in dinosaur bones.
  2. Whilst osteoarthritis has been known to affect every age-group, mostly it results from the natural wear and tear of aging joints in the older population. Over half of people over the age of 65 and more than 80% of people over the age of 70 suffer from the disease. Before the age of 55 more men than women have osteoarthritis, once past age 55, osteoarthritis occurs more frequently in women.
  3. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and takes a ‘non-inflammatory’ form. The damage is not caused by the body’s autoimmune response, but by the degeneration of the cartilage that cushions the bones.
  4. Whilst, osteoarthritis is most commonly caused by wear and tear, it can also result from previous damage or trauma to the joint. Research also indicates genetic predispositions to osteoarthritis.
  5. People with osteoarthritis vary greatly in their experience of symptoms. There is rarely joint deformity and pain can range from totally debilitating to patients having no idea they even have osteoarthritis until it is discovered by an x-ray.
  6. Osteoarthritis can be diagnosed with x-ray. However only 30% of people who have osteoarthritis showing on their x-ray have symptoms of pain. Blood tests are also used to diagnose osteoarthritis in order to rule out other forms of arthritis.
  7. Recent evidence indicates the key role biomechanics plays in osteoarthritis, previously thought to be just a cartilage problem. The breakdown of cartilage places stress on the knee and leads to muscular imbalances when the joint bends and rotates, thus accelerating the process of degeneration.
  8. The process also involves water retention which causes a chemical reaction where cracks occur and fissures form in the joint. Small bone spurs grow out of the joint as the body tries to regain stability and redistribute the load. However, the bony outgrowths further interfere with the mechanism of joint movement. Cartilage fragments break off and float around the joint causing more damage and irritating the inner lining of the joint, producing excess synovial fluid.
  9. Evidence suggests that many factors can also influence the severity of osteoarthritis symptoms as well as the rate of degeneration. These include depression, anxiety, level of daily activity and the patient’s own attitude.
  10. Most treatment plans for osteoarthritis combine weight control, physical therapy and joint protection. Medication used can include non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, pain medication, steroid injections and topical pain relieving medications.
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