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Osteoarthritis (OA) is the progressive degenerative joint disease primarily affecting soft connective tissue known as the cartilage. It is mostly known to be the disease of middle aged or elderly people. Although it can damage or affect any part of the body, the joints of the hands, knees, hips and spine are commonly affected. Being progressive in nature, it often gets worse without any conventional way of curing it. Staying physically active, managing weight, and technologically advanced treatment may help to manage the disease.

How Prevalent is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 26 million Americans are affected.  Almost 40 percent of those suffering from the disease are more than 65 years of age. OA is also found to be more prevalent in women than in men.

CDC has confirmed an annual death rate of 0.2 to 0.3 deaths per 1,000,000 population. Thus, approximately 500 deaths are attributed to OA per year and the number is increasing every year.

Factors Responsible for Osteoarthritis

Although scientists have determined osteoarthritis to be an autoimmune disorder, there are some other common risk factors that can aggravate the condition, such as:

  • Being Overweight
  • Age
  • Joint injury
  • Joint defects
  • Genetic abnormality
  • Joints being overstressed due to sports, knee bending, repetitive motions
  • Pregnancy and associated calcium loss in women, estrogen deficiency, etc.
  • Presence of reactive proteins in urine
  • High bone density

Symptoms Associated with Osteoarthritis

Being a joint disorder, osteoarthritis can occur in any joint, although the most prevalent among them are heavy weight bearing joints such as the ankles, knees, spine, etc. Symptoms of the disease often develop very slowly but worsen with time. They may include:

  • Severe joint pain during or after the movements.
  • Tenderness when light pressure is applied.
  • Joint stiffness especially in the morning or after a period or activity.
  • Severe loss of flexibility to the extent that joints cannot be moved smoothly within their full range of motion.
  • Grating sensation after the overuse of joints.
  • Bone spurs observed around the affected parts of the joints.

Prognosis associated with Osteoarthritis:

  • Improve joint function.
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • Weight management.
  • Adapting a healthy lifestyle such as physical exercise, yoga, diet, etc.
  • Rest as much as possible with joint care.

Apart from these rehabilitative approaches, doctors may also suggest certain medications such as:

  • Non-drug pain relief to control pain.
  • Steroidal drugs.