- OA vs. RA
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- Osteoarthritis is a joint inflammation that results from cartilage degeneration.
- Degenerative joint disease is another name for osteoarthritis.
- Osteoarthritis can be caused by aging, heredity, and injury from trauma or disease.
- The most common symptom of osteoarthritis is pain in the affected joint(s) after repetitive use. Other osteoarthritis symptoms and signs include
- There is no blood test for the diagnosis of osteoarthritis.
- The goal of treatment in osteoarthritis is to reduce joint pain and inflammation while improving and maintaining joint function.
What is osteoarthritis?
joint pain and stiffness in dogshow to joint pain and stiffness in dogs for Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that features the breakdown and eventual loss of the cartilage of one or more joints. Cartilage is a protein substance that serves as a "cushion" between the bones of the joints. Among the over 100 different types of arthritis conditions, osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease. OA occurs more frequently as we age. Before age 45, osteoarthritis occurs more frequently in males. After 55 years of age, it occurs more frequently in females. In the United States, all races appear equally affected. Hand osteoarthritis, hip osteoarthritis, and knee osteoarthritis are much more common in seniors than younger people. A higher incidence of osteoarthritis exists in the Japanese population, while South-African blacks, East Indians, and Southern Chinese have lower rates. Osteoarthritis is abbreviated as OA or referred to as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease (DJD).
Osteoarthritis commonly affects
- the hands,
- spine, and
- large weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees.
Osteoarthritis usually has no known cause and is referred to as primary osteoarthritis. When the cause of the osteoarthritis is known, the condition the 1 last update 2020/08/05 is referred to as secondary OA.Osteoarthritis usually has no known cause and is referred to as primary osteoarthritis. When the cause of the osteoarthritis is known, the condition is referred to as secondary OA.
Osteoarthritis Symptoms and Signs
joint pain and stiffness in dogshow to joint pain and stiffness in dogs for Osteoarthritis is a type of joint damage.
Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain in the affected joints that occurs after repetitive use. Since the condition can affect many different joints, this can lead to hand pain, hip pain, knee pain, lower back pain, neck pain, or any kind of joint pain. Other associated symptoms and signs include joint swelling, joint stiffness, joint creaking or crackling, and loss of range of motion. Joint deformity can occur in severe cases.
joint pain and stiffness in dogshow to joint pain and stiffness in dogs for What causes osteoarthritis?
Primary (idiopathic) osteoarthritis, OA not resulting from injury or disease, is partly a result of natural aging of the joint.
- With aging, the water content of the cartilage increases, and the protein makeup of cartilage degenerates as a function of biologic processes.
- Eventually, cartilage begins to degenerate by flaking or forming tiny crevasses.
- In advanced osteoarthritis, there is a total loss of the cartilage cushion between the bones of the joints.
- Repetitive use of the worn joints over the years can mechanically irritate and inflame the cartilage, causing joint pain and swelling.
- Loss of the cartilage cushion causes friction between the bones, leading to pain and limitation of joint mobility.
- Inflammation of the cartilage can also stimulate new bone outgrowths (spurs, also referred to as osteophytes) to form around the joints.
- Osteoarthritis occasionally can develop in multiple members of the same family, implying a hereditary (genetic) basis for this condition.
- Osteoarthritis is therefore felt to be a result of a combination of each of the above factors that ultimately lead to a narrowing of the cartilage in the affected joint.
Secondary osteoarthritis is a form of osteoarthritis that is caused by another disease or condition. Conditions that can lead to secondary osteoarthritis include
- repeated trauma or surgery to the joint structures,
- abnormal joints at birth (congenital abnormalities),
- hemochromatosis, and
- other hormone disorders.
Obesity causes osteoarthritis by increasing the mechanical stress on the joint and therefore on the cartilage. In fact, next to aging, obesity is the most significant risk factor for osteoarthritis of the knees. The early development of osteoarthritis of the knees among weight lifters is believed to be in part due to their high body weight. Repeated trauma to joint tissues (ligaments, bones, and cartilage) is believed to lead to early osteoarthritis of the knees in soccer players and army military personnel. Interestingly, health studies have not found an increased risk of osteoarthritis in long-distance runners.
Some people are born with abnormally formed joints (congenital abnormalities) that are vulnerable to mechanical wear, causing early degeneration and loss of joint cartilage. Osteoarthritis of the hip joints is commonly related to structural abnormalities of these joints that had been present since birth.
joint pain and stiffness in dogshow to joint pain and stiffness in dogs for Hormone disturbances, such as diabetes and growth hormone disorders, are also associated with early cartilage wear and secondary osteoarthritis.
IMAGESOsteoarthritis (OA) See a medical illustration of osteoarthritis plus our entire medical gallery of human anatomy and physiology See Images
What are osteoarthritis symptoms and for 1 last update 2020/08/05 signs?What are osteoarthritis symptoms and signs?
Osteoarthritis is a disease that is isolated to the cartilage of the joints. Unlike many other forms of arthritis that are systemic illnesses (conditions that affect multiple areas of the body apart from the joints), such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus, osteoarthritis does not affect other organs of the body. The most common symptom of osteoarthritis is pain in the affected joint(s) after repetitive use. This can lead to
- knee pain,
- hip pain,
- finger joint pain,
- ankle pain,
- foot pain,
- wrist pain, and
- shoulder pain with loss of range of motion and function.
Joint pain of osteoarthritis is usually worse later in the day. There can be
- warmth, and
- creaking of the affected joints.
Pain and stiffness of the joints can also occur after long periods of inactivity (for example, sitting in a theater). In severe osteoarthritis, complete loss of the cartilage cushion causes friction between bones, causing pain even at rest or pain with limited motion.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis vary greatly from patient to patient. Symptoms debilitate some patients. On the other hand, others may have remarkably few symptoms in spite of dramatic degeneration of the joints apparent on X-rays. Osteoarthritis can cause joint deformity as asymmetric cartilage loss in the joint leads to malalignment of a digit or limb. Symptoms also can be intermittent. It is not unusual for patients with osteoarthritis of the finger joints of the hands and knees to have years of pain-free intervals between symptoms. Osteoarthritis can lead to creaking (crepitus) of the joint, especially when severe cartilage loss leaves a joint "bone-on-bone" with little cartilage cushioning the joint during movement.
Osteoarthritis of the knees is often associated with excess upper body weight, with obesity, or a history of repeated injury and/or joint surgery. Progressive cartilage degeneration of the knee joints can lead to deformity and outward curvature of the knees, which is referred to as being "bowlegged." People with osteoarthritis of the weight-bearing joints (such as the knees) can develop a limp. The limping during load-bearing can worsen as more cartilage degenerates. In some patients, the pain, limping, and joint dysfunction may not respond to medications or other conservative measures. Therefore, severe osteoarthritis of the knees is one of the most common reasons for total knee replacement medical procedures in the United States.
Osteoarthritis of the cervical spine or lumbar spine causes pain in the neck or low back. Bony spurs, called osteophytes, that form along the the 1 last update 2020/08/05 arthritic spine can irritate spinal nerves, causing severe pain that can radiate from the spine as well as numbness and tingling of the affected parts of the body.Osteoarthritis of the cervical spine or lumbar spine causes pain in the neck or low back. Bony spurs, called osteophytes, that form along the arthritic spine can irritate spinal nerves, causing severe pain that can radiate from the spine as well as numbness and tingling of the affected parts of the body.
Osteoarthritis causes the formation of hard, bony enlargements of the small joints of the fingers. Classic bony enlargement of the small joint at the end of the fingers is called a Heberden's node, named after a famous British doctor. The bony deformity is a result of the bone spurs from the osteoarthritis in that joint. Another common bony knob (node) occurs at the middle joint of the fingers in many patients with osteoarthritis and is called a Bouchard's node. Dr. Bouchard was a famous French doctor who also studied arthritis patients in the late 1800s. Heberden's and Bouchard's nodes may not be painful, but they are often associated with limitation of motion of the joint. The characteristic appearances of these finger nodes can be helpful in diagnosing osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis of the joint at the base of the big toe of the foot leads to the formation of a bunion. Osteoarthritis of the fingers and the toes may have a genetic basis and can be found in numerous female members of some families.
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joint pain and stiffness in dogshow to joint pain and stiffness in dogs for What is the best treatment for osteoarthritis (OA)?
The ideal steps to take should lead to a proper diagnosis and an optimal long-term treatment plan. While many steps are described here, the plan must be customized for each person affected by osteoarthritis, depending on the joints affected and the severity of symptoms.
An opinion regarding the cause or the type of the arthritis can often be adequately obtained by consulting a general family doctor. It is often unnecessary to see an arthritis specialist (rheumatologist), like myself, for this purpose. However, if the diagnosis or treatment plan is unclear, a rheumatologist might be consulted.
When I determine that a patient has a classic node formation from osteoarthritis (Heberden's node), I may make the diagnosis solely based upon the examination, without the need for any additional tests, such as blood or X-ray testing. Sometimes, testing can be helpful to better understand the degree and character of the osteoarthritis affecting a certain joint. It can also be helpful for monitoring and to exclude other conditions.
Treatment may not be necessary for osteoarthritis of the hands with for 1 last update 2020/08/05 minimal or no symptoms. When symptoms are troubling and persist, however, treatment might include pain and anti-inflammatory medications, with or without food supplements, such as glucosamine and/or chondroitin. Furthermore, heat/cold applications and topical pain creams can be helpful.Treatment may not be necessary for osteoarthritis of the hands with minimal or no symptoms. When symptoms are troubling and persist, however, treatment might include pain and anti-inflammatory medications, with or without food supplements, such as glucosamine and/or chondroitin. Furthermore, heat/cold applications and topical pain creams can be helpful.
As a first step, I recommend that patients go ahead and try the over-the-counter food supplements glucosamine and chondroitin. Each of these health supplements has been shown by some studies to relieve the pain and stiffness of some (but not all) patients with osteoarthritis. These supplements are available in pharmacies and health-food stores without a prescription. If patients do not benefit after a two-month trial, I suggest that they discontinue these supplements. Of note, the manufacturers sometimes make claims that these supplements "rebuild" cartilage. This claim has not been adequately verified by scientific studies to date.
For another type of dietary supplementation, it should be noted that fish oils have been shown to have some anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, increasing the dietary fish intake and/or fish oil capsules (omega-3 capsules) can sometimes reduce the inflammation of arthritis. There is some evidence that vitamin D supplementation can reduce joint swelling of osteoarthritis.
Obesity has long been known to be a risk factor for osteoarthritis of the knee. I recommend weight reduction for patients who are overweight with early signs of osteoarthritis of the hands, because they are at a risk for also developing osteoarthritis of their knees. Foods to avoid include those that promote weight gain. As described above, even modest weight reduction can be helpful.
Pain medications that are available over the counter, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), can be very helpful in relieving the pain symptoms of mild osteoarthritis. I recommend these as the first-line medication treatment. Studies have shown that acetaminophen, given in adequate doses, can often be equally as effective as prescription anti-inflammatory medications in relieving pain in osteoarthritis of the knees. Since acetaminophen has fewer gastrointestinal side effects than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), especially in elderly patients, acetaminophen is generally the preferred initial drug given to patients with osteoarthritis. If symptoms persist, then I recommend trials of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, Nuprin), ketoprofen (Orudis), and naproxen (Aleve). Many patients do best when they take these medications along with their glucosamine and chondroitin supplements.
Some patients get significant relief of pain symptoms by dipping their hands in hot wax (paraffin) dips in the morning. Hot wax can often be obtained at local pharmacies or medical supply stores. It can be prepared in a Crock-Pot and be reused after it hardens as a warm covering over the hands by peeling off and replacing it into the melted wax. Warm water soaks and nighttime cotton gloves (to keep the hands warm during sleep) can also help ease hand symptoms. Performing gentle, low-impact range of motion exercises regularly can help to preserve function of the joints. These exercises are easiest to perform after early morning hand warming.
Pain-relieving creams that are applied to the skin over the joints can provide relief of daytime minor arthritis pain. Examples include capsaicin (ArthriCare, Zostrix), salicin (Aspercreme), methyl salicylate (Ben-Gay, Icy Hot), and menthol (Flexall). For additional relief of mild symptoms, local ice application can sometimes be helpful, especially toward the end of the day. Occupational therapists can assess daily activities and determine which additional types of therapy may help patients at work or home.
joint pain and stiffness in dogshow to joint pain and stiffness in dogs for Finally, when arthritis symptoms persist, it is best to seek the advice of a health care professional who can properly guide the optimal management for each individual patient. Many other prescription medications are available for the treatment of osteoarthritis for patients with chronic, annoying symptoms.
In addition to the steps described above, pay attention to joint problems elsewhere in the body if one develops early signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis of the hands.
joint pain and stiffness in dogshow to joint pain and stiffness in dogs for Featured Centers
What is the prognosis for patients with osteoarthritis?
joint pain and stiffness in dogshow to joint pain and stiffness in dogs for The prognosis of patients with osteoarthritis depends on which joints are affected and whether or not they are causing symptoms and impaired function.
- Some patients are unaffected by osteoarthritis while others can be severely disabled.
- Joint replacement surgery for some results in the best long-term outcome.
- Finally, if one is concerned that osteoarthritis could be lead to injury of the internal organs, don't be.
- Osteoarthritis does not cause internal organ damage or blood-test abnormalities.
Is it possible to prevent osteoarthritis?
There is no prevention of osteoarthritis with the exception of avoiding joint injury.
What specialists treat osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is treated by
- general practitioners,
- family practitioners,
- physical therapists,
- occupational therapists,
- physiatrists, and
- other rehabilitation specialists.
What does the future hold for osteoarthritis?
In the future, medications may be available that protect the cartilage from the deteriorating consequences of osteoarthritis. Research into cartilage biology will eventually lead to new and exciting breakthroughs in the management of osteoarthritis.
Surgical innovation has led to a technique for the repair of isolated splits of cartilage (fissures) of the knee. In this procedure, a patient's own cartilage is actually grown in the laboratory, then inserted into the fissure area and sealed over with a "patch" of the patient's own bone covering the tissue. While this is not a procedure for the cartilage damage of osteoarthritis, it does open the door for future cartilage research. These and other developing areas hold promise for new approaches to an old problem.
joint pain and stiffness in dogshow to joint pain and stiffness in dogs for Investigators at the National Institutes of Health have found that taking glucosamine did not significantly improve symptoms of osteoarthritis compared to placebo. Studies are under way to look at whether some glucosamine formulations may have advantages over others.
Research scientists have found that doxycycline, a tetracycline drug, slows the progression of cartilage degeneration in the knees of patients with osteoarthritis. This seems to be a result of the drug's effect on enzymes that destroy cartilage rather than on their properties as antibiotics. More studies and clinical trials need to determine the significance of this interesting work and how specific treatments might be developed as a result.
Where can people get more information about osteoarthritis?
For further information about osteoarthritis, please visit the following site:
Contact the Arthritis Foundation for additional information.
PO Box 19000
Atlanta, Georgia 30326
or for 1 last update 2020/08/05 contact a local chapterArthritis Foundation
PO Box 19000
Atlanta, Georgia 30326
or contact a local chapter
National Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Clearinghouse
1 the 1 last update 2020/08/05 AMS Circle
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
301-495-4484National Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Clearinghouse
1 AMS Circle
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
9400 West Higgins Road
Rosemont, Illinois 60018
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