Osteoarthritis is a common degenerative disease of the joints. Also known as the wear and tear disease, it is
characterized by areas of destruction of articular cartilage, sclerosis of the underlying bone and hypertrophy of soft
tissues. This type of arthritis affects more people than any other type. Patients usually know this disease best as
old age arthritis.
Why does Osteoarthritis occur?
In a normal joint a smooth, elastic material called cartilage covers the ends of your bones where they meet.
Cartilage enables the bones to glide smoothly across each other and gives joints their flexibility. When the
cartilage wears away, it becomes painful to move the joint. The ends of the bones may develop spurs or
outgrowths, and ligaments and membranes around the bones may thicken. It usually becomes apparent in older
people, in the larger, weight-bearing joints including the hips, knees, and spine.
What are the symptoms?
Episodes of pain, swelling and stiffness in the affected joint occur at intervals of months or years. The major
symptom is pain, in and around the joints. In different individuals the type of pain varies. It may be a constant
aching, a feeling of soreness, or a more severe pain when you move your joints. The pain occurs because the
pressure is placed on the nerve endings due to the deterioration of the smooth cartilage between the bones. Tense
muscles may radiate to other muscles that seem unrelated to your sore joint.
How is Osteoarthritis diagnosed?
Often if a person complains of pains in joints, the physician will order x-rays because damage to a joint may be
seen that way. However, x-rays are only part of the procedure to diagnose Osteoarthritis. The history of your
symptoms and the findings of the complete physical examination also will be valuable factors in the diagnosis.
Your explanation of how you feel will be very important. For example, persons with Osteoarthritis usually do not
have a feeling of being ill, do not experience severe weight loss, and do not have poor appetite or fever. Also, the
pain in the involved joint is usually maximal with activity (walking; etc.) and decreased by rest in patients with
How is Osteoarthritis treated?
There is no cure for Osteoarthritis. The goal of therapy is to control the disease and possibly slow its progress by
keeping the affected joints mobile, preventing further disability, and relieving pain.
In some cases special exercise, rest and heat therapy are effective. Resting decreases stress on the sore joints,
and relieves pain and swelling. Pain relievers such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
(NSAIDs) are commonly used to relieve pain and inflammation. However, oral pain reliever has its side effects
particularly in the gastrointestinal system If you are over-weight, your physician will probably suggest a weight-
reducing diet. Reducing weight will help reduce strain on your joints, particularly if your Osteoarthritis is in the hips