Osteoarthritis (OA), sometimes called degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of the joint disorder. The common risk factors of osteoarthritis include aging, obesity, trauma and diabetes. Symptoms of osteoarthritis are joint pain, joint tenderness, joint stiffness, the grating of the joint with motion, and limited movement. Joint x-ray and MRI may help diagnose osteoarthritis. Treatments of osteoarthritis include medications to relieve pain and maintain a healthy lifestyle. For most patients, osteoarthritis is manageable, although the disease may limit movement.
What are the symptoms of Osteoarthritis?
Symptoms of osteoarthritis vary from person to person. For most patients, it develops slowly and worsens over time. Usual signs and symptoms include:
- Joint pain, gets worse during or after movement. Pain increases during humid or moist weather.
- Joint tenderness
- Joint stiffness: It may be noticeable when you wake up in the morning or after a period of inactivity.
- Limited movement: You may not be able to move your joint through its full range of motion.
- Grating of the joint with motion
- Bone spurs
Diseases which can have similar symptoms are
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Joint tuberculosis
Who is at highest risk?
- Trauma or surgery of joint
- Other types of arthritis, such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis
- Congenital abnormalities
When to seek urgent medical care?
Call your doctor if you have symptoms of osteoarthritis.
To confirm the diagnosis your doctor will run the following tests
- Joint x-rays: X-ray images of affected joint in patients with osteoarthritis may demonstrate loss of joint cartilage, narrowing of the joint space between adjacent bones, and bone spur formation.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI uses magnetic fields but it is a different type of image than what is produced by computed tomography (CT) and produces detailed images of the joint.
- Blood tests such as antistreptolysin O (ASO) titer, sedimentation rate (ESR): These tests may help doctors rule out rheumatoid arthritis.
- Synovial fluid examination: When a patient demonstrate the signs of acute inflammatory arthritis, it is necessary to aspirate synovial fluid of the involved joint to rule out infectious arthritis. During the procedure, the doctor may use a needle to draw fluid from the affected joint. Based on the discovery of urate crystals in the synovial fluid or soft tissues, the doctors can confirm the diagnosis.
The goal of treatment of osteoarthritis is to control joint pain and maintain or improve joint function.
- Control your weight
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Protect your joint
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs may be used to control inflammation and pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Usual drugs include ibuprofen, naproxen and indomethacin. Usual side effects are [pain]], bleeding and ulcers in upper gastrointestinal tract.
- Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids are generally prescribed for patients who cannot take NSAIDs. These drugs can be used by oral or by injection into the joint to control inflammation and pain. Side effects of corticosteroids may include a weakened immune system, slower healing in the wound, and osteoporosis.
- COX-2 inhibitors such as celebrex, rofecoxib and valdecoxib: These kind of drugs may also be used to relieve pain. However, studies demonstrate it may bring a risk of heart attacks and stroke.
- Glucosamine: Some doctors recommend this drug to control pain. Supplemental glucosamine may improve symptoms of OA and delay its progression. More studies are needed to assess this drug.
- Chondroitin sulfate: This drug is also recommended by some orthopedists. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found no benefit from chondroitin. More studies are needed to assess this drug.
- Capsaicin: This skin cream may help relieve pain.
Where to find medical care for Osteoarthritis?
Ask our experts on osteoarthritis
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
Prognosis of osteoarthritis is good, although the disease may limit your movements.
Prevention of Osteoarthritis
- Weight loss
- Avoidance trauma on the joint
- Control your glucose