What You Need to Know About Osteoarthritis

What You Need to Know About Osteoarthritis

10:02 27th March 2018 | Chronic Disease

Chronic Disease Older People Osteoarthritis Degenerative Joint Disease Degenerative Arthritis Wear-and-Tear Arthristis Global Disability Symptomatic Knee OA Increase in Nigeria Ages 40 and Above 1 in 5 Adults Broken Cartilage Affected Joints

Any adult can suffer from osteoarthritis (OA), but this chronic disease mostly affects older people and can cause disability. Other names for OA include degenerative joint disease, degenerative arthritis and wear-and-tear arthritis. Knee OA is one of the leading causes of global disability.

FACTS
  • Knee OA is a prevalent condition in Nigeria and a public health burden
  • Evidence in earlier studies suggested OA prevalence in Nigeria is increasing
  • 1 out of every 5 adults, aged 40 and older, has symptomatic knee OA with a point prevalence of 19.6%
What is Osteoarthritis?

Cartilage is the rubberlike, flexible tissue you find at the end of bones. It acts as a protective ‘cushion’ between bones that rub against each other in a joint. Joints connect bones in the body.

OA is the result of cartilage breaking down. With reduced cushioning, bones end up rubbing together which typically results in stiffness and pain, among other symptoms. Cartilage can wear away completely.

This progressive condition has five stages and although damage is irreversible, the disease can be managed with treatment.

The most commonly affected joints include the fingertips, hands, hips, knees and spine (generally neck or lower back region).

What Causes Osteoarthritis?
  • Obesity
  • Poor posture
  • Genetic factors
  • Gender: More common and severe in women
  • Age: Age-related joint damage / wear and tear
  • Other forms of arthritis, e.g. gout or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Past injury: e.g. ligament injuries, dislocated joints and torn cartilage
  • Joint abnormalities: from birth or developed in childhood, e.g. Perthes’ disease of the hips
  • Career/job: physical labour where activities are repetitive or performed for hours at a time
  • Bleeding disorders (e.g. hemophilia and avascular necrosis) or medical conditions that involve bleeding near a joint
What Symptoms are Associated with Osteoarthritis?

Common symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Joint stiffness
  • Loss of flexibility
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Tenderness when touched
  • Changes in joint appearance
  • Abnormal sensations (caused by rubbing bones)
  • Discomfort limited to specific times (usually during the early stages)
When Osteoarthritis Gets Worse

As OA progresses through the stages (0 to 4), pain can become worse and may be accompanied by swelling in and around the joint(s). Severe OA is represented by stage 4 (stage 0 = normal joint).

Note: The condition can stabilise meaning not all OA suffers necessarily progress to stage 4.

Extensive or complete loss of cartilage, that occurs in Individuals with severe OA, can lead to:

  • Increased swelling and inflammation caused by excess synovial fluid or fragments of broken-off cartilage floating within this fluid
  • Increased pain when performing activities, during the course of the day and even when resting
  • Decreased range of motion caused by stiffness and/or pain
  • Falling and/or injury caused by joint instability (locking knees; buckling)
  • Weakening muscles, occurrence of bone spurs and even joint deformity
Osteoarthritis Treatment

OA cannot be cured or reversed, but the symptoms can be managed. Recommended treatment will vary according to need and severity.

First consult a doctor before trying any of the following home treatments, lifestyle changes and other treatments or suggestions:

  • Physical therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Lose weight if advised
  • Get enough sleep and rest
  • Ask a healthcare professional about heat and/or cold therapies
  • Supplements: fish oil, green tea, ginger and glucosamine may help with inflammation and pain
  • Exercise: consult a healthcare professional to determine what forms of exercises are safe and how long you can engage in them
  • Eat healthy, nutritious food that contain vitamins C and D, antioxidants, beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids and flavonoids (found in fruits and vegetables)
How to Help Prevent Osteoarthritis

Some things are out of your control, but there are ways to fight the onset of OA, including:

  • Eating well
  • Staying in shape
  • Resting and sleeping enough
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Doing different types of workouts
  • Wearing the right gear when exercising

If you are experiencing OA symptoms or if you have any questions for us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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