Definition and General Information about Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (pronounced as Os-tee-oh-are-THRY-tis) is also called by another name OA in medical terminology. In United States, osteoarthritis is considered as one of the most common diseases that large number of people. About 60 million people in United States are affected by osteoarthritis. This condition is caused due to injuries to joints or wear and tear of joints over a period of time. Spine, hip and knee are the most common sites for development of osteoarthritis. It is considered as most common and oldest form of arthritis. Usually, people in their middle age and older people are main victims of osteoarthritis. It could be mild or severe in nature.

Causes behind development of Osteoarthritis

Based on the available statistics, it can be concluded that osteoarthritis is an unavoidable part of aging. Some of the other common causes include, injuries to joints, injuries associated with work and sports and obesity.

Relation between Genetics and Osteoarthritis

Genetics may play a major role in development of osteoarthritis. For example, an individual born with slight defects in the fitting of joints or with defective cartilage is on higher risk of developing osteoarthritis.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

There may be varying symptoms depending upon the root cause of development of osteoarthritis. The symptoms of this disease develop gradually and do not appear all at once. Stiffness of joint, swollen joints, tenderness or redness of joint are some of the most common symptoms.

Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis

Generally, diagnosis of osteoarthritis is based on the symptoms. However, a doctor may advise you to undergo X-Ray or MRI test to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of Osteoarthritis

Physical exercises (physio therapy), medication, heat and cold therapy and weight loss are commonly used treatments. However, surgery may be required in certain cases.

Risk Factors

Following are some of the conditions which can increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis.

  • Overweight (obesity)
  • People born with ‘double jointed’ condition are on higher risk of developing osteoarthritis.
  • Curvature of spine (called as Scoliosis) also increases your risk of osteoarthritis.

Apart from the above risk factors, there are some other factors which can increase risk of developing osteoarthritis. However, these factors are not common for all. In fact these factors are associated with the profession and other regular activities. Following are examples of some of such factors.

  • Athletics. Athletes, especially those who use anabolic steroids to enhance their performance.
  • Sportsperson. Sportsperson such as soccer and football players are more prone to knee injuries. They may have repeated injuries to knee. Injury being one of the most common causes behind development of osteoarthritis makes these sportsperson vulnerable to osteoarthritis.
  • Ballet Dancers. These dancers use their toes and feet more than other people. Such recurrent stress on these joints can reduce the normal life of joints and lead to wear and tear of joint. This makes them more prone to osteoarthritis.