Prevention First

OSTEOARTHRITIS

Osteoarthritis (OA, also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease), is a group of diseases and mechanical abnormalities involving degradation of joints. Clinical manifestations may include joint pain, tenderness, stiffness, creaking, locking of joints and sometimes local inflammation.

Causes

  • Exercise, including running in the absence of injury, has not been found to increase one's risk of developing osteoarthritis. Some investigators believe that mechanical stress on joints underlies all osteoarthritis.
  • Primary osteoarthritis in the left knee of an elderly female is a chronic degenerative disorder related to but not caused by aging, as there are people well into their nineties who have no clinical or functional signs of the disease.
  • As a person ages, the water content of the cartilage decreases causing the cartilage to be less elastic, the collagen fibers of the cartilage can become susceptible to degradation and thus cause the degeneration.
  • A number of studies have shown that there is a greater prevalence of the disease between siblings and especially identical twins, indicating a hereditary basis. Up to 60% of cases are thought to result from genetic factors.
  • Both primary generalized arthritis and erosive arthritis are sub sets of primary arthritis, erosive are less common.
  • Secondary arthritis is caused by other factors but the resulting pathology is the same as for primary arthritis.
  • Congenital disorders of joints.
  • Diabetes.
  • Injury to joints, as a result of an accident.
  • Septic arthritis ( an infection of a joint ).
  • Obesity causes osteoarthritis by increasing the mechanical stress on the cartilage. In fact, next to aging, obesity is the most powerful risk factor for osteoarthritis of the knees.
  • The early development of osteoarthritis of the knees among weight lifters is believed to be in part due to their high body weight. Repeated trauma to joint tissues (ligaments, bones and cartilage) is believed to lead to early osteoarthritis of the knees in soccer players. Interestingly, recent studies have not found an increased risk of osteoarthritis in long-distance runners.
  • Crystal deposits in the cartilage can cause cartilage degeneration and osteoarthritis. Uric crystals cause arthritis in gout, while calcium pyrophosphate crystals cause arthritis in pseudo gout.
  • Some people are born with abnormally formed joints (congenital abnormalities) that are vulnerable to mechanical wear, causing early degeneration and loss of joint cartilage. Osteoarthritis of the hip joints is commonly related to structural abnormalities of these joints that had been present since birth.
  • Hormone disturbances, such as diabetes and growth hormone disorders, are also associated with early cartilage wear and secondary osteoarthritis.

Symptoms

  • The main symptom is acute pain, causing loss of ability and often stiffness.
  • "Pain" is generally described as a sharp ache, or a burning sensation in the associate muscles and tendons. It can cause a crackling noise when the affected joint is moved or touched and patients may experience muscle spasm and contractions in the tendons.
  • Occasionally, the joints may also be filled with fluid. Humid and cold weather increases the pain in many patients.
  • It commonly affects the hands, feet, spine and the large weight bearing joints, such as the hips and knees, although in theory, any joint in the body can be affected.
  • As arthritis progresses, the affected joints appear larger, stiff and painful and usually feel worse, the more they are used throughout the day, thus distinguishing it from rheumatoid arthritis.
  • In smaller joints, such as at the fingers, hard bony enlargements may form and though they are not necessarily painful, they do limit the movement of the fingers significantly.
  • Arthritis at the toes leads to the formation of bunions, rendering them red or swollen. Some people notice these physical changes before they experience any pain.
  • Arthritis is the most common cause of joint effusion, sometimes called water on the knee in lay terms, an accumulation of excess fluid in or around the knee joint.
  • In Arthritis shoulder pain, wrist pain, limited range of motion, morning stiffness, joint stiffness and tenderness is also present.

Prevention and risk

Prevention

  • The best prevention is to do regular exercise and maintain healthy weight.
  • Weight loss can reduce the risk of knee osteoarthritis in overweight women.
  • Support staff will be required to educate the patient on the correct use of any protective measure, the length of time it will be needed and counsel on the correct way to bend, lift or move the affected joint.
  • Depending on the location of the affected joint, patients may be advised to use neck braces or collars, crutches, canes, hip braces, knee supports, bed boards, or elevated chair and toilet seats.
  • Exercise is any activity requiring physical exertion done for the sake of health. Activities range from walking and yoga to lifting weights and martial arts.
  • Methodical and repetitive physical activity benefiting a person's health. Traditionally, exercise has been a concern of adults, the reasoning being that children are naturally active and do not need any structured program of physical activity.
  • Stretching is an easy thing you can do to improve your health, yet it's often the most neglected part of people's fitness regimens. Stretching can reduce your injury risk and help you become more limber, regardless of your age and physical condition.
High risk
  • Obesity
  • Female gender
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Family history of arthritis
  • Joint injury
  • Certain congenital musculoskeletal deformities.
  • Aging