Osteoarthritis (OA) is caused by aging joints, injury, and obesity. OA symptoms include joint pain and stiffness. Treatment depends on the affected joint, including the hand, wrist, neck, back, knee, and hip, and involves medication and exercise. If you are overweight, weight loss can improve the symptoms. Surgery is generally reserved for those patients with osteoarthritis that is particularly severe and unresponsive to the conservative treatments.
Sometimes called degenerative joint disease or arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common chronic condition of the joints, affecting approximately 27 million Americans. OA can affect any joint, but it occurs most often in knees, hips, lower back and neck, small joints of the fingers and the bases of the thumb and big toe.
In normal joints, a firm, rubbery material called cartilage covers the end of each bone. Cartilage provides a smooth, gliding surface for joint motion and acts as a cushion between the bones. In OA, the cartilage breaks down, causing pain, swelling and problems moving the joint. As OA worsens over time, bones may break down and develop growths called spurs. Bits of bone or cartilage may chip off and float around in the joint. In the body, an inflammatory process occurs and cytokines (proteins) and enzymes develop that further damage the cartilage. In the final stages of OA, the cartilage wears away and bone rubs against bone leading to joint damage and more pain.
Osteotomy is a bone-removal procedure that can help realign some of the deformity in selected patients, usually those with certain forms of knee disease. In some cases, severely degenerated joints are best treated by fusion (arthrodesis) or replacement with an artificial joint (arthroplasty). Total hip and total knee replacements are now commonly performed in community hospitals throughout the United States. These can bring dramatic pain relief and improved function.
Although OA occurs in people of all ages, osteoarthritis is most common in people older than 65. Common risk factors include increasing age, obesity, previous joint injury, overuse of the joint, weak thigh muscles, and genes.
• One in two adults will develop symptoms of knee OA during their lives.
• One in four adults will development symptoms of hip OA by age 85.
• One in 12 people 60 years or older have hand OA.