What is Osteoarthritis?

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs most often in older people. This disease affects the tissue covering the ends of bones in a joint called cartilage. In a person with osteoarthritis, the cartilage becomes damaged and worn out causing pain, swelling, stiffness and restricted movement in the affected joint. This condition most commonly affects the joints in the hips, knees, hands, and spine. Rarely, the disease may affect the shoulders, wrists and feet.

What Causes Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is caused by the wearing out of the cartilage covering the bone ends in a joint. This may be due to being overweight, excessive strain over prolonged periods of time, previous fracture, growth abnormalities, joint diseases, injury or deformity.

Some people have congenital abnormalities of the joints that cause early degeneration and subsequently cause osteoarthritis.

What Are Your Options?

There is no known cure for osteoarthritis; however, there are several treatments and lifestyle modifications that can help you ease your pain and symptoms. The objective of the treatment is to reduce pain, improve joint movement, and prevent further damage to joint. The treatment of osteoarthritis involves:

Medications: Medications may include different classes such as anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections, artificial joint fluid injections, and other drugs.

Lifestyle modifications:

Some of the lifestyle modifications include:

A moderate exercise programs

Use of Heat or cold treatments

Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet

Get adequate rest

Lose weight

Protect your joints with the use of assistive devices such as splints or braces to support the weakened joints

Physiotherapy: Your physiotherapist will teach you exercises to keep joints flexible and improve muscle strength.

Surgery: Surgery is usually considered if nonsurgical treatment fails to provide relief. Joint replacement surgery is considered as an option when the pain is so severe that it affects your ability to carry out normal activities.

What Are Your Success Factors?

Although there is no cure for arthritis, you can take steps to significantly alleviate your symptoms. Successful treatment of arthritis depends on getting an early diagnosis, the type of arthritis, your general health, cooperation with the treatment plan and making positive lifestyle changes.

What Do I Do Next? 

If you think you have symptoms of arthritis, it is prudent to get it evaluated and treated before your condition progresses to permanent joint damage and disability. You can visit your primary doctor or an orthopaedic specialist or rheumatologist who specialises in arthritis and bone and joint health.

  • Australian Orthopaedic Association
  • Australian Knee Society
  • Arthroplasty Society of Australia
  • International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee Surgery and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine
  • Asia Pacific Orthopaedic Association
  • Australian Institute for Musculoskeletal Science
  • Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
  • Warringal Private Hospital
  • Asia Pacific Orthopaedic Association