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Osteoarthritis

A Brief Description

It is considered as one of the most prominent forms of arthritis along with rheumatoid arthritis. This musculoskeletal disorder is both progressive and degenerative in nature. Hence, it is also known as degenerative arthritis. Cartilage degeneration is the main characteristics of this disease. Cartilage is that type of connective tissue whose primary function is to provide a cushioning sensation between the joints. Thus, friction and associated wear and tear of the joints is considerably reduced. It also results in easy joint movements. When these tissues are eroded, it causes the joints to be stiff and results in several mechanical abnormalities.

Osteoarthritis is said to have both primary and secondary forms and the classification is based on the extent of damage caused.

The primary reason for the development of this disorder is the mechanical damage done to the joints and the lack of their repair. The mechanical damage can arise from different conditions. Some of these are mentioned below:

  • Age: As age progresses, the mechanical damage also increases thus resulting in severity of the disease.
  • Weakness of the associated muscle: As the muscles surrounding the bones provide protection to them, any decrease in the muscle strength leads to more chance of bone damage.
  • Obesity: As the body weight increases, it becomes more difficult for the bones to support the body. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain the Body Mass Index (BMI) at right levels.
  • Other forms of injury: Any kinds of fractures and surgeries can also weaken the bones, increasing its chance for damage.

Heredity is another prominent factor that leads to osteoarthritis.

Common Signs & Symptoms

There are several symptoms for osteoarthritis. The common symptoms include:

  • Soreness as a result of physical activity.
  • A sensation of stiffness arising immediately after some rest.
  • Stiffness in the early morning hours, which is believed to last for some 30 minutes.
  • Coordination difficulty.

Mostly, symptoms of this sort are observed in areas like knees, lower back, hip etc. The diagnosis is based primarily on a physical examination with the help of X-rays.

Classifications

It can be classified into two categories, namely, primary and secondary.

  • Primary osteoarthritis: The development of this kind of arthritis is associated with previous joint injury and obesity. It is also doubt that changes in the level of sex hormones may play a role in the development of primary osteoarthritis.
  • Secondary osteoarthritis: Causes for the secondary osteoarthritis and may differ from that of the primary osteoarthritis. But, the developments and consequences are same for both.

Osteoarthritis can be managed by adopting several methods. The list below mentions some of them.

  • Change in lifestyle: If obesity is one of prime causes for the disorder, then this method is the most appropriate one. By a suitable lifestyle change, one can achieve ease of mobility, decreased stiffness etc.
  • Medication: Paracetamol/Acetaminophen is one of the most preferred medicines for the treatment. As severity increases, the use of Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory drugs (NSAID) may be administered. Important drugs that fall into this category include ibuprofen, diclofenac etc.
  • Physical exercises: Various message and physical therapies in the right place can definitely improve the condition. Besides, there are also other appliances like braces, splints etc. that provide adequate support to the affected area.
  • Surgery: If conservative management of the disorder has failed to yield results, surgery may be an option. There are several procedures like knee replacement etc that provides remedy.