What is Osteoarthritis?

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease of the joints and is one of the most common chronic joint conditions. It is often referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis.

What causes osteoarthritis?

A number of factors may contribute to the development of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis develops when the cartilage covering the ends of joints wears away over time. Because the protective layer or cushioning, which once allowed the bones to glide easily with one another is gone, the patient typically experience pain.

Several factors may contribute to the development of osteoarthritis, including family history, injury, and obesity.

What joints are affected by osteoarthritis?

While osteoarthritis can affect any joint, it most commonly affects the knees, hips, neck, back and fingers.

What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?

Symptoms of osteoarthritis can range widely from mild discomfort to disabling depending on how severely the condition has progressed. Osteoarthritis can be a painful condition because of joint inflammation caused by the lack of cartilage. When someone has osteoarthritis, their bones lack the proper cartilage cushioning, causing the bones to rub against each other.

Common symptoms:

  • Pain and soreness
  • Swelling around the joint
  • Stiffness and limited range of motion
  • Locking, clicking, snapping or grinding
  • Pain that is worse in the morning or end of the day
  • Pain may worsen after vigorous activity

Although there is not a cure for osteoarthritis, if identified early, there are treatments available that may help manage the disease, slow its progression and restore mobility.
How is osteoarthritis diagnosed?

Typically, an osteoarthritis diagnosis will include the following:
• Assessment of complete medical history (personal and family)
• Physical exam and assessment of symptoms
• Possible diagnostic tests just as x-rays, MRIs, joint aspiration, etc.
During the physical exam, the physician will test your range of motion, identify areas of the joint that cause pain or discomfort, check for injuries, and ask you a variety of questions regarding your symptoms and whether or not the joint causing pain has ever been injured.