What is it?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disease in the UK affecting approximately 10 million people. It results from the breakdown of articular hyaline cartilage, the smooth, hard material that lines the ends of bone joints and allows easy movement between the surfaces. Eventually this breakdown leads to the destruction of the underlying bone.
Why does it occur?
Osteoarthritis can develop when a joint has been subjected to previous trauma, or wear and tear. Osteoarthritis can also be caused by a mechanical stress on the joint, and a low grade inflammatory process, and is therefore more common in people who are overweight or have jobs or interests that put repeated and heavy load on particular joints.
What are the symptoms?
Most commonly it affects the hands, knees, hips and spine, but can affect any synovial joint (a joint that facilitates movement) within the body. The most common symptoms are joint pain and stiffness, often associated with swelling and deformity. These symptoms normally progress slowly over time, worsening as any arthritis develops in particular joints.
How is it diagnosed?
Your consultant will take a thorough and careful medical history and physical examination, and will ask you about the nature of the pain and stiffness you are experiencing, and about any deformities. They will often also require x-rays, which will help indicate the loss of the smooth articular cartilage, and MRI scans which will show any earlier loss of articular cartilage, bruising and swelling.
How is it treated?
This will include lifestyle changes, possibly including weight loss and doing some low impact physical, which has been shown to reduce the load going through the joint and improve the the structure of the supporting muscles. These measures will also help with the pain and stiffness caused by arthritis, and can be supplemented with pain relieving medication, such as Paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Depending on the degree of your condition, your consultant may also suggest either steroid, hyaluronic acid or platelet rich plasma injections.
If your symptoms become severe are affecting your day-to-day quality of life, surgery may be considered. The surgery will depend on the pattern, severity and location of the arthritis, and your consultant will discuss all the options in detail with you.
You can read more about ACP therapy (natural help for osteoarthritis and joint pain) HERE.
One Orthopaedics team specialists
Consultant Orthopaedic Knee and Hip Specialist FRCS (Tr & Orth)
Knee Specialist FRCS (Orth)
Consultant Orthopaedic Knee and Hip Surgeon FRCS (Tr & Orth)
Consultant Orthopaedic Specialist FRCS (Tr & Orth)
Pain Management Consultant FRCA FFPMRCA
Consultant Spinal Surgeon FRCS (Orth)
Consultant Orthopaedic Hand Surgeon, FRCS (Orth)
Consultant Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeon FRCS (Tr & Orth)