Learning about osteoarthritis is the first step to taking control.
Once you’ve learned about the disease you can take steps towards actively managing it by protecting your joints, eating well, exercising safely, and managing your pain.
Cartilage in your joint breaks down
|Joints A joint is where two bones meet. Cartilage is the protective layer that covers the end of the bones and allows the bones to move smoothly over each other.||
Over time, the cartilage begins to fray and may even wear away entirely, causing your bones to rub directly against each other. This damage can cause pain as bones have many nerves, unlike cartilage. In some cases little bony growths, or spurs, develop on the ends of the bone.
Where does Osteoarthritis strike?
Osteoarthritis can affect any joint. It usually affects the joints that carry your bodyweight, like the lower back, feet, hips, and knees. It is also seen in finger joints and the joint at the base of the thumb.
Osteoarthritis is different from rheumatoid arthritis
In rheumatoid arthritis your immune system is involved and your joints become red, hot, swollen and painful. These signs of inflammation are not common in joints that have osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis SymptomsTalk to your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms:
- An achy feeling in your joints after or during exercise
- Pain, stiffness, swelling, or a loss of flexibility in your joints
- Increased cracking, creaking, or crunching when you move your joints
- Stiffness in your joints for more than a half-hour after you get out of bed in the morning
What are the risk factors?
- Age: Osteoarthritis is not a result of aging, but your chances of developing the disease increase as you get older.
- Obesity: Excess weight puts unnecessary strain on load-bearing joints like hips and knees and causes more inflammation.
- Other types of arthritis: Other joint diseases can damage joints leaving them susceptible to osteoarthritis (i.e. rheumatoid arthritis).
- Heredity: The way your joints fit together at birth may determine whether or not you develop osteoarthritis later in life.
- Injury and repetitive strain: Old injuries or a lifetime of activities like heavy lifting, kneeling, or squatting can leave lasting damage.
Stages of the Disease
Early - people in the early stage of osteoarthritis may feel a slight ache in their joints with certain activities, such as climbing stairs or sitting down.
Advanced - In more advanced stages, people may feel pain while resting or putting any weight on the joint. When the joint is very damaged, difficult to move or painful, sometimes surgery is helpful.
Not all people will progress to the advanced stage of osteoarthritis and not all people will end up having surgery.
Is there a cure?While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are many things you can do to manage osteoarthritis and enjoy the best quality of life possible.