Osteoarthritis is an ongoing, progressive disease that affects the joints of the body as the cartilage of joints breaks down over time. Osteoarthritis is also called degenerative joint disease.
The joints of the body are the areas where two of more bones meet. In these places, the ends of the bones are protected by a tissue called cartilage, which helps bones to move easily without wearing away the bone tissue. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage becomes torn or thin. This results in the symptoms of osteoarthritis, such as joint pain and swelling.
The way that the disease affects people varies greatly from person to person, but most often affects fingers, hips, back, knees, toes, and neck. Symptoms of osteoarthritis can be mild, moderate, or severe.
Osteoarthritis can also cause inflammation of the synovial membranes. Healthy synovial membranes line and protect the joints and allow smooth and free movement. When synovial membranes are inflamed, they become swollen, tender and warm, and are unable to move freely. Osteoarthritis can also result in other complications. For more details on complications and symptoms, refer to symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Risk factors for developing osteoarthritis include being over 45 years old, overweight, joint injury, a sedentary lifestyle, and having family members with osteoarthritis.
Making a diagnosis of osteoarthritis begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. X-rays or MRI may be done to determine if there is joint or nerve damage.
Medical testing may include a variety of tests, including blood tests that are performed to rule out other causes of joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis. These include a rheumatoid factor test, complete blood test (CBC), C-reactive protein, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, joint X-rays, and an analysis of the "lubricating" fluid in the joints (synovial fluid).
It is possible that a diagnosis of osteoarthritis can be missed or delayed because some people have no symptoms and because the disease progresses gradually and early symptoms can be mild or assumed to be associated with other conditions, such as aging. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of osteoarthritis.
Treatment for osteoarthritis varies depending on the severity of symptoms, the presence of complications, a person's age and medical history, and other factors. Osteoarthritis cannot be cured, but treatment can help to reduce symptoms and minimize destruction of joints and other complications. Treatment can include a combination of medication, physical therapy, and surgery. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of osteoarthritis. ...more »
Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis typically caused by
In diagnosis, it must be distinguished from other types of
arthritis including rheumatoid arthritis
(second-most common type, affecting younger adults and juveniles),
and various types of secondary arthritis that
are caused by an underlying condition:
reactive arthritis caused by an infection,
psoriatic arthritis from psoriasis,
gonococcal arthritis from gonorrhea,
Other possible conditions with arthritis-like symptoms
include ankylosing spondylitis (affecting the spine) and gout. ...more »
The types and severity of symptoms of osteoarthritis vary between individuals. At the onset of the disease, the symptoms of osteoarthritis can be vague and develop slowly. Many people may have no symptoms in early stages.
As osteoarthritis progress, joint pain occurs. Joint pain progresses in severity over time and can lead to difficulty moving, ...more symptoms »
There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but with early recognition and treatment, it is possible to minimize and delay joint damage and complications of the disease, such as chronic pain and disability. The most successful treatment plans usually use a multipronged approach, including physical therapy, appropriate periods of rest and exercise, medications, and in some cases ...more treatments »
A diagnosis of osteoarthritis may be delayed or missed because early symptoms may be mild and intermittent and develop slowly. In addition, some people do not experience symptoms in early stages of osteoarthritis. Symptoms may also be mistakenly attributed to other conditions and diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, minor joint trauma, aging, or ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
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Home Diagnostic Testing
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Alternative Treatments for Osteoarthritis
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Causes of Osteoarthritis
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Disease Topics Related To Osteoarthritis
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Osteoarthritis: Undiagnosed Conditions
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Misdiagnosis and Osteoarthritis
Alzheimer's disease over-diagnosed: The well-known disease of Alzheimer's disease
is often over-diagnosed.
Patients tend to assume that any memory loss or forgetulness symptom might be Alzheimer's,
whereas there are many other...read more »
Dementia may be a drug interaction: A common scenario in aged care is for
a patient to show mental decline to dementia.
Whereas this can, of course, occur due to various medical conditions,
such as a stroke or Alzheimer's disease...read more »
Tremor need not be Parkinson's disease: There is the tendency to believe that
any tremor symptom, or shakiness, means Parkinson's disease.
The reality is that there are various possibilities, such as benign...read more »
Leg cramps at night a classic sign: The symptom of having leg muscle cramps,
particularly at night, is a classic sign of undiagnosed diabetes.
However, there are also various other causes.
See causes of...read more »
Rare diseases misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease: A rare genetic
disorder is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease for men in their 50's.
The disease Fragile X disorder can show...read more »
Psoriatic arthritis often undiagnosed cause of joint conditions: Patients with the skin condition psoriasis
can also have the related arthritis subtype called "...read more »
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Latest Treatments for Osteoarthritis
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Prognosis for Osteoarthritis
Prognosis for Osteoarthritis:
The prognosis varies from patient to patient with severity of symptoms and rate of progression varying depending on individual factors such as compliancy with management of the condition.
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Research about Osteoarthritis
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Clinical Trials for Osteoarthritis
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and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.
Some of the clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov for Osteoarthritis include:
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Clinical Trials for Osteoarthritis
Prevention of Osteoarthritis
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and may be inaccurate or incomplete.
None of these methods guarantee prevention of Osteoarthritis.
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Statistics for Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis: Broader Related Topics
Types of Osteoarthritis
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Article Excerpts about Osteoarthritis
Do I have Arthritis: NIAMS (Excerpt)
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis.
This is the form that usually comes with age and most often affects
the fingers, knees, and hips. Sometimes osteoarthritis follows an
injury to a joint.
For example, a young person might hurt his knee
badly playing soccer. Then, years after the knee has apparently
healed, he might get arthritis in his knee joint.
A sports injury to a knee when a person is young
can lead to athritis years later.
Rheumatoid arthritis happens when the body's own defense
system doesn't work properly. It affects joints, bones, and
organs--often the hands and feet. You may feel sick or tired, and you
may have a fever.
Other conditions can also cause arthritis. Some
Gout, in which crystals build up in the joints. It
usually affects the big toe.
Lupus (LOOP-us), in which the body's defense system
can harm the joints, the heart, the skin, the kidneys, and other
Viral hepatitis (VY-rul HEP-ah-TY-tis), in which an
infection of the liver can cause arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis can make it hard to hold a
pencil or a brush.
Do I Have Arthritis?
Have a fever.
Have trouble breathing.
Get a rash or itch.
These symptoms may also be signs of other illnesses.
Having stiffness or pain when you move could be a
sign of arthritis.
What Can I Do?
How Will the Doctor Help?
How Should I Use Arthritis
What If I Still Hurt?
If you still hurt after using your medicine correctly
and doing one or more of these things, call your doctor. Another kind
of medicine might work better for you. Some people can also benefit
from surgery, such as joint replacement. (Source: excerpt from Do I have Arthritis: NIAMS)
Handout on Health Osteoarthritis: NIAMS (Excerpt)
Osteoarthritis (AH-stee-oh-ar-THREYE-tis) is the most
common type of arthritis, especially among older people. Sometimes it is
called degenerative joint disease or osteoarthrosis.
(Source: excerpt from Handout on Health Osteoarthritis: NIAMS)
Questions and Answers About Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases: NIAMS (Excerpt)
Also known as degenerative joint disease,
osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, affecting an
estimated 20.7 million adults in the United States. Osteoarthritis
primarily affects cartilage, which is the tissue that cushions the
ends of bones within the joint. Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage
begins to fray, wear, and decay. In extreme cases, the cartilage may
wear away entirely, leaving a bone-on-bone joint. Bony spurs (pointy
bulges of bone) may form at the edges of the joint. Osteoarthritis can
cause joint pain, reduced joint motion, loss of function, and
disability. Disability results most often when the disease affects the
spine and the weight-bearing joints (the knees and hips).
(Source: excerpt from Questions and Answers About Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases: NIAMS)
Arthritis Advice -- Age Page -- Health Information: NIA (Excerpt)
Osteoarthritis (OA) , at one time called
degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis
in older people. Symptoms can range from stiffness and mild pain
that comes and goes to severe joint pain and even
disability. (Source: excerpt from Arthritis Advice -- Age Page -- Health Information: NIA)
Definitions of Osteoarthritis:
Noninflammatory degenerative joint disease occurring chiefly in older persons, characterised by degeneration of the articular cartilage, hypertrophy of bone at the margins and changes in the synovial membrane. It is accompanied by pain and stiffness, particularly after prolonged activity. (On-line Medical Dictionary)
- (Source - Diseases Database)
Chronic breakdown of cartilage in the joints; the most common form of arthritis occurring usually after middle age
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)
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