Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative arthritis, is a category of several mechanical abnormalities involving the degradation of the joints over a period of time. This can include elements such as the degradation of subchondral bone and articular cartilage. As bone surfaces become less protected by the cartilage, the bone can become exposed to wear and tear and eventually become damaged. With lack of normal movement due to the pain, it is possible for some of the muscles to begin to atrophy and for the ligaments around the area to become more relaxed and less capable of being able to serve their function. Usually the treatment associated with osteoarthritis will involve lifestyle modification, analgesics, and exercise. If the condition worsens to an extreme, it may be necessary to consider options such as joint replacement surgery in order to improve the quality of life for the individual affected by the condition.
The general symptoms associated with osteoarthritis involve pain, loss of motion, loss of ability, and stiffness. The pain can be described as a sharp stabbing sensation or a burning feeling around the affected area. Individuals with osteoarthritis may hear a crackling noise when the joint in question is being moved around or used. Some individuals experience a muscle spasm and contractions in the tendons that are surrounding the area. Sometimes it is also possible for the joints to become filled with fluid. Cold weather and humidity is known to make the pain and the sensations worse for many people. Osteoarthritis is a condition that generally affects the spine, hands, feet, hips, knees, and weight bearing joints. However, this is not to say that these are the only joints in the body that can be affected by the condition.
The cause for osteoarthritis isn’t completely clear. It is believed that it is based on mechanical stress on the joints, regardless. Individuals with primary osteoarthritis can experience the condition due to aging and general wear and tear placed on their joints throughout the years. Some people have a higher risk for developing the condition if osteoarthritis runs in their family history. There is specifically a large risk among siblings and those who are twins. Alternatively, secondary osteoarthritis can be caused by conditions such as diabetes, obesity, congenital disorders of the joints, septic arthritis, and inflammatory diseases. Doctors able to diagnose osteoarthritis by performing a series of tests, using clinical examinations, and considering the patient’s history.