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What is Osteoarthritis?

  • Dec 17
  • Bone & Joint Care

What is Arthritis and what causes it?

All joints in our body are usually characterized by a lining around the cartilages, called the synovial membrane, which helps the bones glide smoothly over one another. However, over a passage of time, this lining tends to wear off especially the joints around the hip and the knee. This, in turn, leads to constant rubbing of the joint bones against each other that lack the required cushioning. Moreover, thick tissue also known as pannus grows inside the joint which over a passage of time can lead to the destruction of cartilage and bone inside the joint.  Since joints are the primary source for physical movement and movement, arthritis can actually lead to limitation of your movements quite considerably. Eventually, this damage makes it hard to move the joints. This painful condition is termed as arthritis.

Types of Arthritis

Although, there are over 200 types of arthritis also known as musculoskeletal conditions which are spread across seven main categories as under:

  • Back pain
  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • Soft tissue musculoskeletal pain
  • Metabolic arthritis.
  • Connective tissue disease
  • Degenerative or mechanical arthritis
  • Infectious arthritis

However, in this blog, we will be focusing on the Osteoarthritis – the most common type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis can be described as a long-term degenerative disease that results in the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. Further, osteoarthritis can be broken down as primary or secondary. The causes behind primary osteoarthritis are usually unknown but in most cases, the cause tends to be associated with aging – which is why it’s referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis.   Secondary osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is as a result of the destruction of cartilage from a known condition. These conditions include joint injury or surgery, gout, congenital abnormalities (abnormalities present at birth), infection, and obesity. The most commonly affected joint areas usually include:

  • Hands and fingers
  • Hips
  • Knees
  • Spine

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Far more prevalent among women and people aged over 45, osteoarthritis can prove to be a major cause of disability and reduction in the quality of life of most individuals. Age is directly proportional to osteoarthritis symptoms as the aging of the body over time leads to excessive wear and tear of the joint cartilages. It also needs to be noted that osteoarthritis is a progressive disease which means that the symptoms tend to worsen over time which basically means that it may get extremely tough to diagnose during old age.

The very first sign of osteoarthritis is characterized by a distinct feeling of stiffness around your joints, whether it’s your knee, hips or ankles or feet. Furthermore, this could lead to a subsequent sensation of discomfort or pain around the groin, buttocks or thighs area as well. Locking of the knee or a crackling sound or grating feeling (Crepitus) while exercising, walking, climbing stairs, jogging, working out, flexing, etc. are some other common signs of osteoarthritis affliction. This is usually caused as a result of the bone rubbing against bone or roughened cartilage.

People tend to experience diverse signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis, and initially, there may be no signs at all which might be on display. Some of the most commonly occurring symptoms can be highlighted as below:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint swelling owing to excess fluid in the joints
  • Joint deformity due to bone growths and cartilage loss
  • Joint warmth may be noticeable in an arthritic joint.
  • Joint inflammation, tenderness, & pain that radiates into the shoulder or down the arm
  • Joint redness, stiffness & numbness in one or both arms
  • Slight limping
  • Profound loss of range of movement or limitation of motion
  • Loss of symmetry

Furthermore, if you are afflicted with a severe or advanced type of osteoarthritis, the likelihood of you feeling pain all the time is quite high – even at night or when you’re resting.

Treatment

Osteoarthritis can severely impair a person’s ability to perform even the simplest and mundane everyday tasks. However, the good news is that osteoarthritis if not at an advanced stage, it can even be treated at home. There are many things you can do to relieve symptoms to make sure you live a healthy lifestyle and have a better quality of life.

The main factor to take into consideration is not to overstress the joints while ensuring that one takes adequate rest in order to stay away from any possible injuries. Physiotherapy and periodic massages are also suitable alternatives that can help you flex the joints and keep them pain-free. Painkillers such as Acetaminophen (paracetamol, Tylenol), NSAIDs, or topical ointments are also advised in order to seek relief from severe joint pains. Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, naproxen may also be prescribed by a physician ( orthopedic doctor ) to give an individual quick pain-relief.

Physical therapy coupled with prescribed exercises such as Yoga, for instance, may help stabilize the spine while helping build endurance along with an increase in levels of flexibility. Regular exercise such as walking or swimming combined with a healthy, balanced diet can aid an individual to lose weight while also reducing stress on the joints – especially in the lower limbs.

As a matter of fact, alternative therapies including acupuncture and massage have also been known to relieve symptoms in certain individuals. In severe cases, joint replacement surgery such as hip joint replacement and knee joint replacement is usually recommended.

About Fortis

With 56 hospitals across the nation and over 10,000 beds, Fortis Healthcare Limited is a leading integrated healthcare delivery service provider in India. For over 26 years, Fortis Hospitals have been committed to the cause of getting people back to their lives faster and stronger.

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