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What Is Osteoarthritis?

Post Series: Osteoarthritis

What is Osteoarthritis (OA)?What is Osteoarthritis?

The most prevalent chronic (long-term) joint ailment is osteoarthritis (OA).

A joint is the point where two bones meet. The ends of these bones are protected by cartilage, which is a type of connective tissue. This cartilage breaks down as a result of OA, causing the bones of the joint to rub together. This can result in pain, stiffness, and other side effects.

OA is more common in elderly persons, however it can affect adults of any age. Degenerative joint disease, degenerative arthritis, and wear-and-tear arthritis are all terms used to describe OA.

Causes of Osteoarthritis

Joint damage is the cause of OA. This damage can build up over time, which is why one of the biggest causes of joint deterioration that leads to osteoarthritis is age. Your joints have seen greater wear and tear as you’ve gotten older.

Other factors that contribute to joint degeneration include previous injuries, such as:

  • ligament damage
  • torn cartilage
  • dislocated joints

Joint deformity, obesity, and bad posture are also among them. Osteoarthritis is caused by a combination of risk factors, including family history and gender. Take a look at some of the most prevalent causes of OA.

Cartilage and osteoarthritis

Cartilage is a strong, rubbery substance that is softer than bone and more flexible. Its purpose is to protect the ends of bones in a joint while allowing them to move freely against one another.

These bone surfaces become pitted and rough when cartilage breaks down. This might result in joint pain as well as irritation in the surrounding tissues. Damaged cartilage is incapable of self-repair. This is due to the absence of blood veins in cartilage.

When cartilage is entirely worn away, the cushioning buffer it provides vanishes, allowing bone-on-bone contact to occur. This can result in excruciating pain and other OA symptoms.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis

OA can affect any joint. However, the following are the most typically affected bodily parts: hands, fingers, knees, and hips spine, usually at the neck or lower back

The following are the most prevalent symptoms of osteoarthritis: tenderness of pain (discomfort when pressing on the area with your fingers), stiffness, inflammation

The pain associated with OA may become more acute as it progresses. Swelling in the joint and surrounding area may develop over time. Early detection of OA symptoms can aid in improved management of the condition.

Severe osteoarthritis

OA is a chronic illness that progresses through five stages, from 0 to 4. A normal joint is represented by the first stage (0). Severe OA is represented by stage 4. Not everyone with OA will advance to stage 4 of the disease. Long before this stage, the illness usually stabilizes.

In people with severe OA, cartilage loss is substantial or total in one or more joints. The resulting bone-on-bone friction might result in serious symptoms such as:

  • Swelling and inflammation have increased. It’s possible that the amount of synovial fluid in the joint will grow. This fluid normally aids in the reduction of friction during movement. It can, however, induce joint swelling in big doses. Broken-off cartilage fragments may also float in the synovial fluid, causing pain and edema.
  • Pain has become more intense. You may experience pain when doing activities as well as when you are at rest. If you’ve utilized your joints a lot throughout the day, you may notice an increase in pain or swelling in your joints as the day goes on.
  • Range of motion has been reduced. Because of stiffness or soreness in your joints, you may not be able to move as well. This can make it more difficult to enjoy the little pleasures that used to come readily.
  • Instability of the joints. It’s possible that your joints will become less stable. If you have significant OA in your knees, for example, you may feel locking (sudden lack of movement). Buckling (when your knee gives out) can also occur, resulting in falls and damage.
  • Other signs and symptoms.  Muscle weakening, bone spurs, and joint deformity can all arise as a joint wears down.

Although the joint degeneration caused by severe OA is irreversible, therapy can help to alleviate symptoms. Discover all there is to know about advanced osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis vs. osteoarthritis

Although OA and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have similar symptoms, they are very different diseases. OA is a degenerative disease, which means that its severity worsens over time. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease.

People with RA have immune systems that misinterpret the soft lining around joints as a threat to the body and attack it. The synovium is the soft lining that contains the synovial fluid. Fluid buildup within the joint happens as the immune system launches its attack, causing stiffness, discomfort, edema, and inflammation.

If you’re unsure about which type of arthritis you have, speak with your doctor. You can, however, conduct your own research. Learn the distinctions between RA and OA.

Diagnosis of osteoarthritis

OA is a slow-progressing illness that can be difficult to detect until it causes painful or severe symptoms. Early OA is frequently diagnosed following an accident or other incident that results in a fracture that necessitates an X-ray.

Your doctor may utilize an MRI scan in addition to X-rays to diagnose OA. This imaging technique creates images of bone and soft tissue using radio waves and a magnetic field.

A blood test to rule out other disorders that cause joint discomfort, such as RA, is another diagnostic test. A joint fluid study can also be done to evaluate whether the underlying cause of inflammation is gout or infection.

 

 

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