Osteoarthritis is characterized by painful and stiffness of the joints. It is considered as a common form of arthritis.
What are the signs?
The main signs of this form of arthritis is joint pain and rigidity. In some cases, it can be accompanied by tenderness, swelling and a crackling or grating sound if the affected joints are moved.
The seriousness of the symptoms of osteoarthritis varies for each individual and between the affected joints.
In some individuals, the symptoms are mild and might come and go. In some, it can be continuous and severe which makes daily activities difficult.
What are the causes?
As part of the normal aging process, the joints are exposed to continuous low-level damage. In most instances, the body fixes the damage and there are no symptoms.
In osteoarthritis, the cartilage on the end points of the bones deteriorates, resulting to pain, inflammation and issues with joint movement. Bony projections can form, and the site can end up inflamed.
The precise cause is not known but there are several contributing factors such as:
- Joint injury – overuse of the joint where it does not have sufficient time to recuperate after sustaining an injury
- Age – the risk for osteoarthritis rises as one gets older
- Other conditions – osteoarthritis can develop in joints that were significantly injured by an earlier or current condition such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis
- Obesity – if an individual is obese, there is excess strain on the joints especially those that bear most of the body weight such as the hips and knees
- Family history
As a long-term condition and one that cannot be cured, osteoarthritis does not necessarily worsen over time and can oftentimes gradually improve.
A variety of treatment options are available to lessen the symptoms.
The minor symptoms can be managed with simple remedies such as:
- Regular exercise or physical activity
- Cutting down weight if overweight
- Using appropriate footwear
- Specialized devices to lessen the strain on the joints during daily activities
In case the symptoms are severe, there are additional treatment such as pain medications and a tailored exercise plan under the supervision of a physical therapist.