Osteoarthritis is an illness in which the cartilage that protects and covers the joints deteriorates over time. Eventually, as the bones are no longer separated by the cartilage, they start rubbing against each other. This damages the tissue and the bone underneath and provokes pain and, subsequently, osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease or osteoarthrosis, is the most common and frequent form of arthritis and the main cause of cause of pain and disablement in old adults. The disease often targets the joints of the spine, fingers (especially the thumb), knees and toes. Osteoarthritis at the level of the knee can lead to disablement in 1 out of 10 people.
Osteoarthritis is the result of some chemical changes at the level of the cartilage which cause it to get damaged faster than the body produces it. In most cases, doctors cannot pinpoint the cause of the destruction of the cartilage. In some cases, it can appear as a result of another illness. Excessive body weight can place extra tension on the joints, especially those that sustain our body frame, such as knees and hips. Therefore weight loss can diminish the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Minor joint trauma can also lead to osteoarthritis over time. Even though daily activities do not usually cause this disease, some types of activities, such as frequent weight lifting, squatting or kneeling can place repeated tension on the joint, and thus increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis can also be triggered by metabolic irregularities or hormonal imbalance.
The most frequent symptoms of osteoarthritis are pain, rigidity, movement limitation, swelling and even deformity. The symptoms of osteoarthritis can range from minor to severe. These depend on the affected joints. For example, symptoms in the case of weight-supporting joints such as the knees or hips are far more unpleasant than those of fingers, for example.
Usually, osteoarthritis occurs to only one set of joints, for example both knees. However, it can be located in more places simultaneously (knees and hands, for example). Normally, osteoarthritis produces symptoms only at the level of one or more joints. Symptoms that affect the entire body, such as weight loss or rashes, are not typical of osteoarthritis. As osteoarthritis become progressively more severe, its symptoms can begin to include total loss of joint function in the diseased areas.
Although the cure for osteoarthritis does not yet exist, treatment can be very effective in diminishing the symptoms, given that it is a correct one. Besides diminishing the unpleasant symptoms of osteoarthritis, the right treatment will also stop future damaging of the joints. The typical treatment of osteoarthritis implies a change in lifestyle and diet, taking the correct combination of medication, physiotherapy and weight loss in the case of obese patients.
As it is the case with most types of arthritis, an early diagnosis of osteoarthritis is your best bet in treating it successfully. So, if you are experiencing one ore more of the previously mentioned symptoms, go see the nearest rheumatologist and orthopedist, and start working on improving your life.