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What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA), which is also known as osteoarthrosis or degenerative joint disease(DJD), is a progressive disorder of the joints caused by gradual loss of cartilage and resulting in the development of bony spurs and cysts at the margins of the joints. The name osteoarthritis comes from three Greek words meaning bone, joint, and inflammation.

Alternative Names

Hypertrophic osteoarthritis; Osteoarthrosis; Degenerative joint disease; DJD; OA; Arthritis - osteoarthritis

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

There may be varying symptoms depending upon the root cause of development of osteoarthritis. The symptoms of this disease develop gradually and do not appear all at once. Stiffness of joint, swollen joints, tenderness or redness of joint are some of the most common symptoms.

Causes, and risk factors of Osteoarthritis

knee osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis results from deterioration of cartilage within the joint. The major risk factor is age, and approximately 70% of people over the age of 65 show some degree of osteoarthritis upon x-ray. Gender (the condition is more common in women) and joint injury and trauma (e.g., fracture) also are significant risk factors.

Patients who have another form of arthritis (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis) also have an increased risk for developing osteoarthritis.

Other risk factors include the following:

  • Congenital or developmental disorders (e.g., hip displacement, Legg-Calve Perthes disease, bone dysplasia)
  • Genetic (hereditary) abnormalities
  • Metabolic or endocrine disorders (e.g., diabetes, hypothyroidism, Wilson's disease)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Obesity (also may increase the rate of cartilage loss and speed progression of osteoarthritis)
  • Repetitive overuse (e.g., occupational, recreational, athletic activity)

Treatment for Osteoarthritis

The goals of treatment are to:

  • Increase the strength of the joints
  • Maintain or improve joint movement
  • Reduce the disabling effects of the disease
  • Relieve pain

The treatment depends on which joints are involved.

Complications of Osteoarthritis

Complications of osteoarthritis can be serious and include joint damage, deformity, and disability. Seek prompt medical care if you have symptoms of osteoarthritis, such as inflammation, pain, stiffness, and swelling of joints. Early diagnosis and treatment can minimize discomfort and reduce the risk of serious complications.

Prevention of Osteoarthritis

Weight loss can reduce the risk of knee osteoarthritis in overweight women

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