Osteo-arthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wears down over time.
Although osteo-arthritis can damage any joint, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine.
Osteo-arthritis symptoms can usually be managed, although the damage to joints can’t be reversed.
Staying active, maintaining a healthy weight and receiving certain treatments might slow progression of the disease and help improve pain and joint function.
Symptoms of osteo-arthritis
According to NHS, the main symptoms of osteo-arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, and problems moving the joint.
Some people also have symptoms such as:
3. grating or crackling sound when moving the affected joints.
The severity of osteoarthritis symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, and between different affected joints.
For some people, the symptoms can be mild and may come and go. Other people can experience more continuous and severe problems which make it difficult to carry out everyday activities.
Almost any joint can be affected by osteoarthritis, but the condition most often causes problems in the knees, hips and small joints of the hands.
You should see your doctor if you have persistent symptoms of osteoarthritis so they can confirm the diagnosis and prescribe any necessary treatment.
Causes of osteo-arthritis
As part of normal life, your joints are exposed to a constant low level of damage. In most cases, your body repairs the damage itself and you do not experience any symptoms.
But in osteo-arthritis, the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones breaks down, causing pain, swelling and problems moving the joint.
Bony growths can develop, and the area can become swollen and red. (Redness can be harder to see on brown and black skin.)
The exact cause is not known, but several things are thought to increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis, including:
1. joint injury – overusing your joint when it has not had enough time to heal after an injury or operation
2. other conditions (secondary arthritis) – osteoarthritis can happen in joints severely damaged by a previous or existing condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout
3. age – your risk of developing the condition increases as you get older
4. family history – osteoarthritis may run in families, although studies have not identified a single gene responsible
5. obesity – being obese puts excess strain on your joints, particularly those that bear most of your weight, such as your knees and hips
6. being a woman – osteoarthritis is more common in women than men.