Osteoarthritis

Information on the causes of osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease, and symptoms of arthritis joint pain and inflammation

Select a Topic

  1. What is Osteoarthritis?
  2. Diagnosing Osteoarthritis
  3. What Causes Osteoarthritis?
  4. Osteoarthritis Treatment & Natural Remedies for Osteoarthritis

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It is often referred to as the wear and tear arthritis. Almost any joint in the body can be affected, most often the hips, knees and hands. Weight-bearing joints are especially affected.

In OA, cartilage in joints begins to break down. Cartilage cushions the bones of the joints and acts as a shock absorber. When it breaks down and starts to wear away, the bones rub against each other.

Symptoms and Signs

Symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Joint pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Muscle weakness
  • Deformed joints
  • Creaking and cracking of joints
  • Loss of motion and co-ordination

There are two types of OA – primary and secondary. Primary osteoarthritis is "the wear and tear" osteoarthritis associated with aging. It often develops quietly before any pain or stiffness is noticed. Secondary osteoarthritis develops as a result of an injury, trauma, obesity, inflammation, hormonal imbalances, metabolic disorders or connective tissue diseases.

According to the CDC, more than 30 million people in the United States have OA. It tends to occur more often in older people. Women develop osteoarthritis more often than men, especially over age 50. The condition gradually worsens over time.

While some people only experience moderate symptoms, others have severe pain and stiffness that interferes with day-to-day life.

Diagnosing Osteoarthritis

A doctor diagnoses OA based on physical symptoms and medical history. During the exam, your doctor will check the affected joints for swelling, tenderness, loss of motion and joint damage. Lab tests such as X-rays, joint aspiration and MRI can also aid in diagnoses.

A rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in arthritis, can offer more in-depth help for patients if needed.

If you suspect you have joint problems or arthritis, talk to your doctor.

What Causes Osteoarthritis?

Researchers aren’t sure why some people develop OA and others don’t. Several factors are known to contribute to its development, including:

  • Aging
  • Obesity
  • Heredity or genetics
  • Joint injury
  • Joint overuse
  • Stress on a joint
  • Muscle weakness
  • Other diseases and types of arthritis
Diseases associated with Osteoarthritis include:
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Tendonitis or bursitis
  • Asthma
  • Chronic OA
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Chronic prostatitis
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Allergies
  • Vasculitis
  • Transplant rejection

Treatment for Osteoarthritis

There is no cure for OA, but a wide variety of health care treatment options are available. OA affects everyone differently. Your doctor can work with you to create a treatment plan for your specific needs.

Doctors typically focus on treating arthritis pain symptoms with a combination of therapies, including:

  • Increasing physical activity
  • Maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight if needed
  • Physical therapy to strengthen muscles
  • Heat and ice therapy
  • Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen or topical analgesics for mild arthritis pain
  • Prescription medications such as prescriptive NSAIDs, steroidal injections and opioid analgesics for severe joint pain and swelling
  • Support devices such as canes, crutches or walkers
  • Surgery, as a last resort
  • Self-care strategies such as staying active, communicating with your doctor and protecting yourself from joint injuries

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen or topical analgesics may help with mild pain. Prescription NSAIDs, steroidal injections and opioid analgesics may be prescribed for more severe pain and swelling. They work to reduce pain, but can have side effects and risk of dependency. Self-care and management are also very important.

Other treatment options include physical therapy, occupational therapy, TENS, acupuncture, and massage to help ease joint discomfort and pain. More serious cases may require surgery to replace the damaged joint.

Regular exercise with strengthening and stretching helps maintain motion and flexibility. Eating properly, maintaining a healthy weight and getting enough sleep are essential to managing OA.

Natural remedies for degenerative joint pain and stiffness

More and more people are choosing natural and holistic remedies over conventional medicine to treat OA. Conventional medicine can treat pain effectively, but these prescription medicines can have harsh side effects.

Natural supplements such as JointEase Plus™ for Joint Movement & Flexibilty provide natural support for joint problems and cartilage health. JointEase Plus is an herbal supplement that supports joint health, flexibility, movement and comfort.

 
The content provided is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have a health condition, please consult a medical professional and do not use this information to self-diagnose or self-treat.
Reviewed by Master Herbalist, Mary Ellen Kosanke
 
References:
1.    “Osteoarthritis (OA).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed January 9, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/osteoarthritis.htm 
2.    “Osteoarthritis.” National Institute on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed January 9, 2020. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/osteoarthritis
3.    “Osteoarthritis Health Center.” WebMD. Accessed January 9, 2020. https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/default.htm
4.    Whelan, Heights and Higuera. “Everything You Need to Know.” Healthline. Accessed January 20, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/osteoarthritis
5.    “Osteoarthritis.” Mayo Clinic. Accessed January 9, 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoarthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351925