What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease that affects the joints mainly the cartilage. Cartilage is the healthy slippery tissue that covers the joint which allows the bones to glide over each other. It also helps absorb shock of movements.
Osteoarthritis cause the cartilage to break down and wear away, which allows the bones to rub together. This rubbing of the bones causes joint pain and swelling. Over a period of time, the joint loses it normal shape.
Who is affected by this type of joint pain?
Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition, commonly affecting the following groups of people
- Mostly older people
- Athletes, weight lifters, dancers, sports persons, etc
- Those who have had multiple joint injuries
- Overweight people
- People with genetic defect in the joint cartilage
What are the common symptoms of Osteoarthritis?
Common symptoms of Osteoarthritis are
- Severe pain in the joint
- Morning Stiffness in the joint after getting out of bed
- Swelling or tenderness in one or more joints
Can this condition be cured?
Symptoms & progress of the disease is specific to each individual person, but we know that the progress of the disease can be controlled & the pain can be symptomatically managed for most people. Specifically,
- The pain of hand osteoarthritis often improves after a few years, though the bony lumps (the nodes) on the joints will remain
- The pain of knee osteoarthritis can improve and that only about a third of people with knee osteoarthritis develop severely worsening symptoms.
What are the treatment options?
Exercise & physical activity: Getting the joint moving, strengthening the muscles and getting fitter can improve joint pain
Losing weight: Excessive weight puts more pressure on joints, therefore losing weight can result in better functioning of the joint
Pain and Anti-inflammatory Medications:
- Analgesics: These are pain relievers and include acetaminophen, opioids (narcotics) and an atypical opioid called tramadol.
- NSAIDs: These are the most commonly used drugs to ease inflammation and related pain.
- Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory medicines.
- Hyaluronic acid: Hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in joint fluid, acting as a shock absorber and lubricant. However, the acid appears to break down in people with osteoarthritis. Therefore they are given as injectables.