Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, that is often called wear and tear arthritis.I6 is the most prevalent disease that affects the joint. It is common in European countries and currently affects over 27 million Americans. It is a multi-joint disease, but it changes some specific joints of the lower back, hips, knee, and fingers. The base of the thumb and big toe.

A joint by medical definition is a place where two or more bones meet. There are a lot of different substances such as cartilage and synovial fluids that glue the bones together at these joints, and prevents joint damage or wear and tears. The cartilage helps in providing a suitable medium for the bones to slide without injury; it also acts as a cushion for preventing wear and tear. Disruption in the structure and function of these joint supporting materials could lead to different disease or medical condition.

Osteoarthritis is characterized by weakening of the cartilage supporting the bony structures in a joint. The cartilaginous function on osteoarthritis patient is altered due to weak or broken cartilage. This damaged cartilage leads to intense sharp pain, which disrupts mobility and day to day activities. Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease, and the symptom worsens as the conditions progress. The breakdown of cartilage leads to the formation of bone spurs. Fragments of the damaged bone and cartilage could trigger the release of cytokines in an inflammatory response. The hallmark of the final parts of osteoarthritis is the friction between the bones, leading to more damage, intense pain, and inflammation.

Who is affected by Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is not age-specific, but more common in geriatrics or people older than 65 years. There are some risk factors that increase the likelihood of having osteoarthritis. The factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Excessive exercise
  • Overuse of joint
  • Weak knee and thigh muscles
  • Genes
  • Previous injury
  • Age: 25 percent of adults would develop osteoarthritis of the hip at the age of 85, 50; percent of adults develops knee osteoarthritis throughout their lifetime. Osteoarthritis of the hand is present in 1 out of every 12 Americans above the age of

Causes of Osteoarthritis

The general assumption that osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear of the joint and cartilage. However, there are other risk factors that could contribute to the etiology of this osteogenic disease. The contributing factors include:

  1. Age and Genetics: Osteoarthritis often occurs in old people, but there is an exception when it could occur in teenagers. This type of osteoarthritis in millennials is due to deficiency of cartilage in the body. A scientist has linked increased FAAH gene to hip osteoarthritis. Their bones could me misaligned in some scenarios leading to osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis can also develop earlier in young people as young as 20 years if they have cartilage deficiency.
  2. Body weight: Obese or overweight people are more prone to having osteoarthritis. The excess burden placed on the weight-bearing joints such as hips and knee could weaken the cartilage and bone Excess fatty tissue found in obese and overweight people stimulates the release of inflammatory cytokines which can cause osteoarthritis.
  3. Trauma and Overuse: Fractures, ligament tears, or injury due to not a repetitive movement or joint overuse could cause osteoarthritis. Power-lifters, athletes, teachers, or professions that involve prolonged standing or intense strain on joint are predisposed to having osteoarthritis. Muscular dysbalance could alter the movement patterns of some joints leading to trauma and osteoarthritis.
  4. Non-Specific Etiologies: There are some non-specific causes of osteoarthritis such as bone disorders or conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, hemochromatosis, acromegaly and other metabolic diseases.

Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

The signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis depend on its severity, and the body part affected. However, there are some common symptoms irrespective of the body part affected such as muscle stiffness and pain especially in the morning or after rest. The Symptoms becomes more progressive gradually as the diseases worse. The pain and symptoms do not start suddenly but progressively. The most common symptoms include:

  • Sore or Stiff Joints: Most people suffering from osteoarthritis often experience stiffness and soreness in the joint affected. The symptoms cause limited range of motion and difficulty in performing simple task and day to day activities.
  • Clicking Sounds: You can hear some clicking sounds when you bend or put some strain on your joints during intense physical activities.
  • Swelling and Pain: There is swelling and pain in the joint affected by osteoarthritis. The pain often intensifies after physical activity, exercise, and towards the ending part of the day.

Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis

There are different ways; the doctors confirm the diagnosis of osteoarthritis. They ask you about your family history and perform various examinations to confirm the diagnosis. The most crucial diagnostic methods include:

  • Joint Aspiration: This is performed to detect the presence of joint crystals and deterioration. It involves aspirating joint fluid for analysis using a needle. It helps to differentiate different types of arthritis.
  • X-ray: It helps to visualize the bone structure and X-rays reveal deformity of bones and can assist in diagnosing osteoarthritis.
  • MRI: It is also called magnetic resonance imaging; it is a device that provides a clearer image of the cartilages and bone structure. It is more expensive than x-rays and does not use radiations.

Treatment of Osteoarthritis

There is no cure for osteoarthritis, because, it is a chronic medical condition. However, there are different treatments to manage its various symptoms. The mainstay of treating osteoarthritis is to manage pain, and stiffness, control body weight and increase physical activities. The treatment options for osteoarthritis include:

  • Physical Activities: Increased physical activities are one of the best ways to manage osteoarthritis symptoms. The goal is to keep moving to loosen the muscle stiffness; you can perform simple exercises such as walking and aerobics. Minimum of 150 minutes of exercise weekly is the recommended duration of physical activity (S. Department of Health and Human Services).
  • Weight Management: Excess body weight places a lot of stress on the weight-bearing joint, losing weight with a proper diet and proper training regimen can help in treating
  • Stretching
  • Pain medications
  • Surgery

Osteoarthritis is a chronic medical condition that affects the bones; it mostly occurs in people above 60 years. The best way to manage these symptoms is to contact your medical practitioner earlier.


Osteoarthritis Treatment. (2018). Arthritis.org. Retrieved 6 March 2018, from https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/osteoarthritis/treatment.php

William C. Shiel Jr., F. (2018). Osteoarthritis Treatment, Symptoms, Signs & CausesMedicineNet. Retrieved 6 March 2018, from https://www.medicinenet.com/osteoarthritis/article.htm

William C. Shiel Jr., F. (2018). Osteoarthritis Treatment, Symptoms, Signs & CausesMedicineNet. Retrieved 6 March 2018, from https://www.medicinenet.com/osteoarthritis/article.htm