Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common kind of arthritis, capable of affecting any joint in the body. However, it most strongly affects those joints that support most of our weight, such as the knees and feet. Joints are points at which two bones come together, and these bones are separated by pieces of protective cartilage. If this cartilage wears down, the bones will come in direct contact and rub against eachother, causing great pain and stiffness among other symptoms.
This is exactly what happens in Osteoarthritis. It is most prevalent in people above the age of 40, due to the negative effects of aging on bodily functions. However, inheritance of certain genes may lead to development of the disease earlier on in life.
We look at some of the causes, symptoms and treatment of the disease in detail below. However, before that we must say that if you have joint pains and stiffness (the most common symptoms of OA), we highly recommend you consult a Top Orthopedic Surgeon in Karachi, especially if you’re above the age of 50.
As we’ve said before, the primary cause of OA is cartilage degradation and joint damage. This joint damage can result as a progression of past injuries such as torn cartilage, joint dislocations, and ligament injuries.
Other factors influencing the progression of OA are:
- Obesity: The abnormal excess weight puts extra physical strain on weight-bearing joints such as knees.
- Age: We’ve already mentioned that people past the age of 40 are more likely to develop the disease because of a loss of proper body function.
- Gender: Though not completely understood, most joints develop OA more commonly in women than men.
- Genetics: Some mutated and inheritable genes such as those that are responsible for collagen production, are directly linked to Osteoarthritis. The inheritance of such genes could mean development of the disease at a much earlier age than usual.
For starters, the most affected parts of the body are the hands, feet, knees, spine and hips. The most common symptoms that you would experience in these parts include:
- Pain/aching during activities that require their use
- Persistent stiffness in their joints after resting or rising in the morning
- Instability (Such as buckling in the case of the knees)
- Swelling around a joint
- Constant clicking or cracking of joints when moving
- Tenderness or weakness in the surrounding muscle or tissue
- Pain in the groin or back area
- Swelling and tenderness at toes
There are various medications that can be used to relieve the pain associated with OA. Analgesics like Acetaminophen are known to help OA sufferers with moderate pain. Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) have also been shown to help relieve OA-related pain. Counterirritants may also be used to divert attention from actual pain.
Other than medication, exercise is a very important part in treating OA. Range-of-motion exercises can help keep joints moving and reduce the persistent stiffness. Strengthening exercises can help build muscle around affected joints and ease their stress. If obesity is aggravating the disease, cardio and anaerobic exercises will indirectly aid in reducing the worst of the OA-symptoms.
If weight loss plans, regular exercise and medication don’t seem to be working, you can resort to surgery. Direct injection of corticosteroids, joint replacement, and lubrication injections are some of the options available.
If you are considering these options, we recommend you look into the Best Orthopedic Surgeon in Karachi, or one that’s more convenient for you, and consult them on the most appropriate course of action.