How Is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed
The diagnosis of osteoarthritis is based on a combination of the following factors:
- Your description of symptoms
Your doctor may use X-rays to help confirm the diagnosis and make sure you don’t have another type of arthritis. X-rays show how much joint damage has occurred. An MRI may be necessary to get a better look at the joint and surrounding tissues if the X-ray results do not clearly point to arthritis or another condition.
Sometimes, blood tests will be performed to determine if you have a different type of arthritis.
If fluid has accumulated in the joints, your doctor may remove some of the fluid for examination under a microscope to rule out other diseases.
Aging Affects The Musculoskeletal System
Aging does affect the musculoskeletal system. Our bones constantly undergo a process of bone absorption and bone formation, together known as remodeling. As we age, the balance between absorption and formation changes, leading to bone loss. Our bones become less dense and more fragile. The composition and properties of cartilage change as well. There is less water content in cartilage as we age, reducing its ability to cushion and absorb shock. Cartilage also goes through a degenerative process which is when arthritis can develop. Ligaments and other connective tissues become less elastic and flexible with age. Because of the changes that occur within the musculoskeletal system as we age, our joints typically develop a decreased range of motion. As cartilage breaks down, joints may become inflamed and painful.
However, according to OrthoInfo, a publication of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the changes that occur in our musculoskeletal system are due more to disuse than aging. The Department of Health and Human Services cited that in 2017, less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
A commitment to exercise may counteract some of the effects of aging. We should view exercise as essential, not as optional.
Will I Need Surgery For Arthritis
Healthcare providers usually only recommend surgery for certain severe cases of arthritis. These are cases that havent improved with conservative treatments. Surgical options include:
- Fusion: Two or more bones are permanently fused together. Fusion immobilizes a joint and reduces pain caused by movement.
- Joint replacement: A damaged, arthritic joint gets replaced with an artificial joint. Joint replacement preserves joint function and movement. Examples include ankle replacement, hip replacement, knee replacement and shoulder replacement.
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Why Do We Get Arthritis
Arthritis is a condition in which the joints become inflamed. It might affect a single joint or a number of joints. There are over 100 varieties of arthritis, each with its own set of causes and treatments. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two of the most frequent kinds of arthritis .
Arthritis symptoms normally occur gradually over time, although they can also emerge unexpectedly. Arthritis is most frequent in people over 65, but it can also affect children, teenagers, and younger individuals. Women and overweight adults are more likely to develop arthritis than men.
What’s New In Arthritis Research
Progress is so fast in some areas of arthritis research today that the media often report new findings before the medical journal with the information reaches your doctor’s office. As a result, you need to know how to evaluate reports on new arthritis research.
Arthritis researchers are looking at four broad areas of research. These include causes, treatments, education and prevention.
Researchers are learning more about certain conditions. For example in osteoarthritis, researchers are looking for signs of early destruction of cartilage and ways to rebuild it. For rheumatoid arthritis and other types that involve inflammation, researchers are trying to understand the steps that lead to inflammation and how it can be slowed or stopped. An initial study suggests that fibromyalgia affects more older people than originally thought and often may be overlooked in this group. Your doctor can tell you about other new research findings. If you would like to take part in arthritis research, ask your doctor for a referral to a study in your area.
Many people help make arthritis research possible. The federal government through its National Institutes of Health is the largest supporter of arthritis research. Drug companies do the most research on new medications.
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What Are The Steps To Diagnosis
Speaking to your GP about your symptoms is a good place to begin getting a diagnosis. Theyre likely to refer you or your child to a sports medicine physician or orthopaedic surgeon who may then carry out all, or some, of the following tests:
- A physical examination of the joint to asses tenderness, swelling, inflammation and mobility
- Blood tests, to rule out the possibility of rheumatoid arthritis or other conditions including gout(there is no blood test for osteoarthritis
- An x-ray to assess for the loss of cartilage or bone spurs
- An MRI scan to provide a detailed image of the inside of the joint, including the soft tissue
What are the treatment options?
Although any damage to the joints cannot be reversed, the symptoms of osteoarthritis can be managed, allowing sufferers to live as normal a life as possible.
Treatments for osteoarthritis include lifestyle advice, medications, orthobiologics and surgery.
Lifestyle changes include taking steps to lose weight if necessary and doing low impact exercise, such as yoga, to help strengthen muscles around the joint to stabilise it. Your doctor may refer you to a physiotherapist if your job or choice of physical activity is causing your symptoms. They may also recommend topical treatments or the use of hot or cold compresses.
Medications for osteoarthritis include pain relievers such as over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory ibuprofen, or stronger pain reliever prescriptions.
What Are The Risk Factors For Arthritis
Some factors make you more likely to develop arthritis, including:
- Age: The risk of arthritis increases as you get older.
- Lifestyle: Smoking or a lack of exercise can increase your risk of arthritis.
- Sex: Most types of arthritis are more common in women.
- Weight: Obesity puts extra strain on your joints, which can lead to arthritis.
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New Treatments For Arthritis In Young People
The best treatment for osteoarthritis in young people is to prevent it altogether. You may be able to reduce your child’s risk for sports injuries by having them participate in ACL injury prevention programs that focus on strength and body mechanics.
“The most important thing is to make sure that when athletes participate in sport, they are doing everything they can to prevent acute injury or even overuse injuries,” says Dr. Smurawa. “They need to condition and strengthen their body and know the skills of their sport.”
Treating cartilage injuries in children is different than in adults because children are still growing, says Dr. Smurawa. Some children’s cartilage will continue to heal on its own without treatment, while other children will need surgical care or other treatment.
One new procedure, matrix autologous cultured chondrocyte implantation , takes the patient’s own cartilage cells, expands them and places them in a collagen membrane. These cells are then implanted in the knee to help restore damaged cartilage.
While MACI technology has been used in Europe for many years, it has only recently been approved in the United States for adults with knee cartilage damage. Soon, this new treatment may be available for children and teens, giving them new options for preventing arthritis in their younger years.
How Arthritis In The Hands Is Treated
If youre diagnosed with an inflammatory form of arthritis, you have more treatment options than someone with OA. While nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help manage the pain of both types of arthritis, the development of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and biologics has vastly improved the prognosis of those with inflammatory forms of arthritis by reducing inflammation and preventing further joint damage.
Cortisone injections can be useful for those with OA and conditions such as RA, though theyre usually used in patients whose inflammatory arthritis is limited to just one or two joints, Dr. Byram says. Injections of hyaluronic acid can be helpful for those with OA , but these are better for managing pain in larger joints like the knees rather than the hands.
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What Increases Your Risk For Arthritis
Sometimes arthritis can occur with no known cause. But there are also factors that can increase your risk for all types of arthritis.
Age: Advanced age increases a persons risk for arthritis types such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis.
Family history: You are more likely to have arthritis if your parent or sibling has an arthritis type.
Gender: Women are more likely to have RA than men while men are more likely to have gout.
Obesity: Excess weight can increase a persons risk for OA because it puts more pressure on the joints.
History of previous injuries: Those who have injured a joint from playing sports, from a car accident, or other occurrences are more likely to experience arthritis later.
Even if you dont feel the symptoms, you should discuss your potential risks for arthritis with your doctor. They can help provide ways to prevent or delay arthritis.
Just as the location of arthritis varies, not all people will have the same type of arthritis.
Whats The Outlook For Someone Living With Arthritis
Since theres no cure for arthritis, most people need to manage arthritis for the rest of their lives. Your healthcare provider can help you find the right combination of treatments to reduce symptoms. One of the biggest health risks associated with arthritis is inactivity. If you become sedentary from joint pain, you may face a greater risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other serious conditions.
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Osteoarthritis Of The Knee
Knee OA is a very common source of pain that can limit your mobility.
Causes of Knee OA
The cause of OA is unknown. These risk factors make it more likely you will develop knee OA:
- Age: OA can occur at any time of life, but it is most common in older adults.
- Sex: Women are more likely to have knee OA than men.
- Obesity: Being overweight adds stress to your knees. Fat cells also make proteins that can cause inflammation in and around your joints.
- Injuries: Any knee injury, even old ones, can lead to knee OA.
- Repeated stress: Frequent stress on your knee from your job or playing sports can increase risk for OA.
- Genetics: You can inherit a tendency to develop OA.
- Bone deformities: If you have crooked bones or joints, you are at higher risk.
- Some metabolic diseases: Diabetes and hemochromatosis, a condition in which your blood has too much iron, have been linked to OA
Symptoms of knee OA develop slowly and worsen over time.
- Pain: Movement causes pain. Sometimes your knee will ache while sitting still.
- Stiffness: Your knees may be stiff first thing in the morning or after sitting for a long time.
- Loss of motion: Over time, you may lose the ability to bend and straighten your knee all the way.
- Creaking and grating : You may hear crackling noises or feel a grating sensation.
- Instability: Your knee may give out or buckle, or feel like it could.
- Locking: The knee may lock or stick.
- Swelling: Your knee may get puffy all around or on one side.
Your doctor will check for:
Can You Prevent Arthritis
There is no single preventative measure for arthritis, especially considering all of the different forms that exist. But you can take steps to preserve joint function and mobility. These steps will also improve your overall quality of life.
Learning more about the disease can also help with early treatment. For example, if you know you have an autoimmune disorder, you can be mindful of early symptoms. The earlier you catch the disease and start treatment the better you may be able to delay the progression of the disease.
Some general recommendations as to how you can prevent arthritis include:
- Eating a Mediterranean-style diet. A diet of fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil, beans, and whole grains may help with inflammation. Decreasing your intake of sugar, wheat, and gluten may also help.
- Eating a diet low in sugars. Sugars can contribute to inflammation and gout pain.
- Maintaining a healthy weight. This reduces the demands on your joints.
- Exercising regularly. Physical activity can help reduce pain, improve mood, and increase joint mobility and function.
- Refraining from smoking. The habit can worsen autoimmune disorders, and is a major risk-factor for rheumatoid arthritis
- Seeing your doctor for yearly check-ups. Remember to report any symptoms that may be related to arthritis.
- Wearing proper protective equipment. When playing sports or doing work, protective equipment can help prevent injuries.
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Causes And Risk Factors
Doctors donât know exactly what causes this disease. But they know these things could be risk factors for RA:
Age. RA can affect you at any age, but itâs most common between 40 and 60. It isnât a normal part of aging.
Family history. If someone in your family has it, you may be more likely to get it.
Environment. A toxic chemical or infection in your environment can up your odds.
Gender. RA is more common in women than men. Itâs more likely in women who’ve never been pregnant and those who’ve recently given birth.
Obesity. Extra weight, especially if youâre under 55.
Smoking. If your genes already make you more likely to get RA, lighting up can raise your odds even higher. And if you do get the disease, smoking can make it worse.
How Arthritis Disrupts Sleep
Many studies show a link between arthritis and sleep deprivation. People with arthritis may have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. They may also report lower quality sleep due to the pain that the condition causes.
A 2021 study involving 133 people with arthritis and 76 matched controls found that 54.1% of people with arthritis reported poor sleep quality. The issues included:
- greater difficulty falling asleep
- poor sleep quality
- more daytime problems related to poor quality sleep
A 2018 study reached a similar conclusion. The researchers compared 178 people with arthritis 120 with RA and 58 with osteoarthritis with 51 people with no arthritis. The rate of insomnia was comparable between the OA and control groups, at 32% and 33%, respectively. However, insomnia was significantly more prevalent among the RA group, affecting 71% of these participants.
Both studies also found a link between arthritis and mental health. People with arthritis were more likely to report marital problems and experience depression, suggesting that insomnia may be a reaction not only to arthritis but also to stress.
The link between arthritis pain and sleep goes in both directions. For example, arthritis can make it difficult to sleep, but sleep deprivation can also worsen arthritis pain. A 2018 study found that pain intensified as sleep worsened. In addition, a
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What Is A Joint And How Does It Work
A joint is where two or more bones meet, such as in the fingers, knees, and shoulders. Joints hold bones in place and allow them to move freely within limits.
Most of the joints in our body are surrounded by a strong capsule. The capsule is filled with a thick fluid that helps to lubricate the joint. These capsules hold our bones in place. They do this with the help of ligaments. These are a bit like very strong elastic bands.
The ends of the bones within a joint are lined with cartilage. This is a smooth but tough layer of tissue that allows bones to glide over one another as you move.
If we want to move a bone, our brain gives a signal to the muscle, which then pulls a tendon, and this is attached to the bone. Muscles therefore have an important role in supporting a joint.
Osteoarthritis In Young People: It Doesnt Just Affect The Elderly
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the UK. Its a chronic, debilitating condition that affects over 9 million people.
However, misconceptions about osteoarthritis proliferate perhaps most notably, the myth that it only affects the elderly. This is not the case: although old people are more likely to get osteoarthritis , about 15,000 children and young people also develop this condition.
King Edward VIIs Hospital physician Dr David Porter specialises in all aspects of orthobiologics, substances that sports medicine physicians and orthopaedic surgeons use to help broken bones and injured tissues heal more quickly. Hes an internationally renowned senior physician in sports medicine and was previously the Club Doctor at Chelsea FC.
In this article, Dr Porter explains what osteoarthritis is, how it can affect young people as well as old and how it can be treated.
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General Joint Pain And Stiffness
In addition to morning joint stiffness, you may also experience general joint stiffness throughout the day, especially after a period of inactivity.
Some of the first areas RA stiffness typically affects are the wrists and certain joints in the hands and feet, but its also possible to experience pain and stiffness in your knees or shoulders. Usually, both sides of your body will be affected.
I Have Been Told That I Have Osteoarthritis Because Of My X
Not necessarily. Some people with osteoarthritis can have no pain at all, yet their X-rays can look very abnormal, and some people with normal x-rays can have a lot of pain. Joint replacement surgery is done to improve pain and function and the decision to have surgery is never just based on x-ray results, so if you can manage your pain and stiffness well by yourself, then you may never need to have surgery.
If your pain is severe and you have tried all the simple self-management techniques that you can to improve the pain, then you may benefit from joint replacement surgery. The most commonly replaced joints are the hips and knees but other joints such as the shoulders, elbows, ankles and wrists and even the small finger joints can now be replaced. Joint replacement surgery can be extremely effective at reducing pain and more than 90% of people who have a hip or knee replaced are happy or very happy with the results. Modern joint replacements can last for 20 years or more.
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