Osteoarthritis – What is it and what symptoms would I experience?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a disease that affects the cartilage (soft tissue that protects the bone surface) in your joints, causing it to break down and wear out. Knee OA is the most common form of this disease.
- Worn out cartilage
- Decreased joint fluid
Signs and symptoms
- Pain and tenderness at the joint
- Stiffness (especially after getting out of bed or getting up from sitting for a long time)
- Loss of flexibility
- A grating feeling or the cracking sound of bone rubbing on bone.
How does knee OA develop? How do doctor diagnose it?
Knee OA develops when changes in the cartilage occur:
- Cartilage becomes pitted, rough and brittle
- Underlying bone thickens and broadens to reduce load on cartilage
- Bony outgrowths form at the outer edges of the joint, making it look knobbly
- Space inside the joint narrows. Bits of bone or cartilage can break off and float inside the joint space.
Diagnosis is usually made using several methods:
- Medical history
- Physical examination of the knee
- X-rays or other imaging tests
- Other tests such as blood tests or exams of the fluid in the joints.
What are the risks factors for OA?
- Older age
- Bone deformities
- Overweight and obesity
- Gender (women > men)
- Joint injuries (sports or accidents)
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Certain occupations (that place repetitive stress on the knee)
What are my treatment options?
- Gentle exercise
- Losing weight
- Enough rest
- Braces / knee guards
- Simple analgesics (paracetamol)
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
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