Osteoarthritis: A common degenerative joint disease.

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease sometimes called “wear-and-tear” arthritis because it is often seen in people as they reach middle age and older. Osteoarthritis develops as the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones between the joints starts to break down and wear away. Eventually the bones begin to rub against each other, causing pain and inflammation.

Research indicates that as many as 30 million adults in the United States have osteoarthritis. It is most common in the knees, hips, hands, spine, and toes, but this chronic condition can affect any joint in the body.

May is National Arthritis Awareness Month, dedicated to raising awareness about the leading cause of disability in the United States, so let’s take a closer look at osteoarthritis and its causes, symptoms and treatment options.

What Causes Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a slowly progressing joint disease that does not have a specific cause, but there are several factors that can increase the risk of developing this condition or making it worse:

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?

Symptoms of osteoarthritis often develop slowly and get worse over time. Some of the most common complaints include:

Osteoarthritis involves only the joints. Its symptoms do not include low-grade fever or skin changes as opposed to other forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that can affect the entire body. Morning stiffness is another common symptom of rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis that is generally not present in osteoarthritis.

How is Osteoarthritis Treated and Managed?

Unfortunately, joint damage caused by osteoarthritis is not reversible, and this condition does not have a cure. The primary goals for treatment are typically to control symptoms and maintain quality of life with medications, lifestyle changes and managed self-care, including the common nonsurgical therapies listed below. However, if conservative treatment methods are not effective, or if the bone damage is quite advanced, joint replacement surgery may be an option to restore function to the affected joints.

Common nonsurgical therapies for osteoarthritis include:

For patients with knee arthritis, we offer robotic-assisted surgery for total and partial knee replacements. In the following video, I explain the difference between partial and total knee replacements:

If you are experiencing the symptoms of osteoarthritis or other joint conditions and would like to consult with us, please call for an appointment.