Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis, especially among older people. It is a joint disease caused by the breakdown of cartilage—the firm, rubbery tissue that cushions bones at joints. Healthy cartilage allows bones to glide over one another and cartilage absorbs energy from the shock of physical movement. In OA cartilage breaks down and wears away. As a result, the bones rub together, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness. OA may also limit the range of motion in affected joints. Most often, OA develops in the hands, knees, hips, and spine. The disease affects men and women nearly equally. Symptoms tend to appear when individuals are in their 50s and 60s.
- Joint pain (often a deep, aching pain) that is worsened by movement and improved with rest (in more severe cases, a person may experience constant pain)
- Stiffness in the morning or after being inactive for more than 15 minutes
- Joint swelling
- Joints those are warm to the touch
- Crunching or crackling noise when the joint moves (crepitating)
- Limited range of motion
- Muscle weakness
- Abnormal growth of bony knobs near joints causing deformities.
OA is also often called degenerative joint disease because this condition involves the destruction of cartilage, which normally protects the joint. Although there are risk factors that may predispose a person to developing OA, it is usually not entirely clear what initiates the damage and loss of cartilage. Once the cartilage becomes somewhat damaged, however, it is more likely for further injury to ensue from repetitive use or another injury. Less commonly, OA is due to a fracture, mechanical abnormalities (such as unequal lower limb lengths), other bone and joint disease (such as gout), or an underlying metabolic or hormonal disorder.
Risk factors for OA include:
- Increasing age
- Genetic predisposition
- Injury to the joint
- History of inflammatory joint disease
- Metabolic or hormonal disorders (such as hemochromatosis and acromegaly)
- Bone and joint disorders present at birth
- Repetitive stressful joint use (such as with certain occupations like baseball, ballet dancing, and construction work)
- Deposits of crystals in joints, such as happens with gout
- Maintaining a normal body weight is an important factor in preventing arthritis.
- Obesity places stress on weight-bearing joints.
- Exercise is essential in dealing with arthritis. If you do not exercise a painful joint the muscle around it starts to waste away. This means the joint will function even more poorly.
- Exercise increases the range of motion of the joint.
- Walking, cycling helps depending upon the condition.