Osteoarthritis is better known as osteoarthritis. This is chronic degenerative joint wear and tear.
What is Osteoarthritis?
The term osteoarthritis is derived from the English and describes a degenerative disease of the joints, in which cartilage is also broken down. The affected persons suffer from pain and restricted movement. In Germany, the term arthrosis is used instead of the term osteoarthritis. See usvsukenglish for What does the abbreviation MCPH stand for.
Osteoarthritis or arthrosis is damage to the joints. It starts with the breakdown of the articular cartilage. In the case of severe osteoarthritis, remodeling processes take place in the adjacent bone and the surface of the joints is destroyed. As a result, patients experience joint stiffness and pain.
Sometimes the joints even deform and eventually ossify completely. In principle, osteoarthritis can occur in any joint in the body. In most cases, however, the hip and knee are affected because they have to carry a lot of weight.
From the age of 50 in particular, the risk of developing osteoarthritis or arthrosis increases. Around 50 percent of all older people suffer from arthritic joint changes. The disease occurs more frequently in women than in men.
The causes of osteoarthritis or arthrosis are different. It is often caused by an imbalance between the load and the resilience of the articular cartilage. As a result, its regression occurs. Sometimes this imbalance is caused by genetic cartilage disorders or incorrect loading.
For example, slight misalignment of the hips or a knock-knee position can be responsible for uneven loading and thus trigger osteoarthritis of the corresponding joints. Earlier injuries, such as capsular ligament injuries or bone fractures, which cause joint instability, can also be the cause of osteoarthritis.
Being overweight also promotes osteoarthritis because the vertebral joints, knees and hips have to carry the resulting body weight. Other conceivable reasons for osteoarthritis are inflammation of the joints or metabolic disorders such as diabetes mellitus, gout or pseudogout (chondrocalcinosis).
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis are joint stiffness and joint pain. Especially with physical exertion or damp weather, the symptoms are intensified. This can be the case, for example, with osteoarthritis of the knee when walking down a flight of stairs. Cycling, on the other hand, can almost always be done without pain.
Other typical signs of osteoarthritis are a temporary stiffness of the joints in the morning and start-up pain. This means pain that occurs with the first movements after a long break. After just a few meters, the start -up pain goes away. The same applies to morning stiffness, which only lasts a maximum of 30 minutes.
As the osteoarthritis progresses, cartilage complaints are caused by abrasion. Due to the irritation of the affected joint, it often swells. In addition, it often fills with liquid and deforms.
In the late stage, the patient also suffers from joint pain when resting, which can degenerate into permanent pain. It appears mainly at night and often causes sleep disturbances. It is usually triggered by a joint effusion, which sometimes leads to irritation and inflammation of the synovium.
Diagnosis & course of disease
Osteoarthritis is diagnosed on the basis of its typical symptoms and joint properties, which the doctor can assess from the outside. At the beginning of the examination, the doctor checks the patient for movement pain, restricted movement, swelling, areas that cause tenderness, the stability of the ligaments and changes in the skin.
In addition, there are often abnormalities in the patient’s gait if the osteoarthritis occurs in the knee or hip. The most important examination is the preparation of X-rays. Characteristic changes such as the development of osteophytes, narrowing of the joint space, compression of the bone below the cartilage and bone damage can be seen on the X-ray images.
In addition, other examination procedures can also take place, such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRT), sonography (ultrasound examination), joint puncture and scintigraphy.
An exact determination of the course of the disease of osteoarthritis cannot be made due to the variety of causes. The disease progresses differently from person to person. However, without treatment, the pain will worsen over time. With timely therapy, however, it is possible to have a positive effect on osteoarthritis. However, a cure cannot be made.
Osteoarthritis suffers from a number of different ailments. First and foremost, there is severe pain in the joints. This pain occurs not only under stress, but also in the form of rest pain and has a very negative effect on the quality of life of those affected. The patients themselves are extremely restricted in their everyday life due to osteoarthritis and can no longer carry out many activities or sports as usual.
A start-up pain also occurs, so that older people in particular suffer from considerable movement restrictions. Osteoarthritis also leads to morning stiffness. Those affected also suffer from swelling and deformation of the respective joints. If the pain of osteoarthritis also occurs at night, this often leads to sleep problems, which can lead to persistent irritability. If the disease is not treated, inflammation of the joint or synovium usually occurs.
The treatment of osteoarthritis is usually not associated with complications. The symptoms can be reduced with the help of medication and various exercises. In severe cases, an artificial hip joint can also be used. The life expectancy of the affected person is not affected by the osteoarthritis.
When should you go to the doctor?
If pain occurs in the area of the joints, a doctor must be consulted. Other symptoms that require clarification are malpositions and visible ossification in the area of the ankles, knees or other parts of the body. If these symptoms occur, a doctor’s visit is indicated. Only the doctor can determine whether it is osteoarthritis. If other symptoms appear, it is best to go to the nearest hospital immediately. In the event of a fall, the injured person must be given first aid and then taken to a clinic.
In most cases, inpatient treatment of the osteoarthritis is then necessary. People who have suffered from joint problems in the past should inform the responsible doctor. Anyone who is exposed to great physical exertion or suffers from other diseases that can cause osteoarthritis must also seek medical help. The family doctor is the first point of contact if osteoarthritis is suspected. In addition, experts in internal medicine and an orthopedist or sports physician can be consulted. The therapy is carried out by different specialists depending on the symptoms.
Treatment & Therapy
The treatment of osteoarthritis pursues the goal of relieving joint pain and helping the patient regain more mobility in order to improve his quality of life. At the beginning of therapy, conservative measures are used. These may include orthopedic treatment or physical therapy exercises.
Reducing excess weight is also considered important. Drugs such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or diclofenac, which are administered in the form of ointments, gels or tablets, are used to treat the pain . Injections or joint irrigation with cortisone can be used during inflammatory phases. Injecting hyaluronic acid into the joint is also considered helpful.
If the conservative measures do not improve the symptoms, an endoprosthesis can be inserted. This treatment is mainly used for advanced osteoarthritis of the hip and knee joints. A surgeon replaces the worn joint with a prosthesis made of plastic, ceramic or metal.
Outlook & Forecast
The earlier the diagnosis of osteoarthritis is made, the better the prognosis for the course of the disease. However, the options for treating osteoarthritis are limited. The disease is not yet curable. The primary aim is to alleviate or contain the symptoms. Check-ups at regular intervals are also relevant for a favorable prognosis.
The prognosis depends on how far the osteoarthritis has progressed and which joints are affected. The previously widespread assumption that the condition of the patient deteriorates quickly in any case is no longer tenable today. According to current knowledge, osteoarthritis progresses slowly. Many patients experience a stabilization or even an improvement in their symptoms to the point of being free of symptoms. A destruction of the joint in a short time, however, is the exception. In addition, the surgical insertion of an artificial joint is necessary in less than five percent of patients.
An overall healthy lifestyle favors the prognosis for a tolerable course of the disease. This includes a varied diet and sufficient exercise while at the same time protecting the affected joints. Excess weight negatively affects the overall condition of the patient. Weight reduction helps to relieve the joints. Excessive consumption of alcohol and nicotine should also be avoided in order to positively influence the course of the disease.
Regular exercise and targeted muscle training are recommended to prevent osteoarthritis. In this way, the joints can be strengthened and excess weight reduced.
In the case of osteoarthritis, a doctor should first and foremost be consulted very early on, so that the occurrence of further complications and symptoms can be prevented. For this reason, early diagnosis of the disease is paramount, with the measures and options for aftercare being significantly limited in most cases.
Patients with osteoarthritis are usually dependent on physiotherapy and physiotherapy. These therapies should be carried out regularly, although the person concerned can also repeat many of the exercises at home. In general, a healthy lifestyle can also have a positive effect on the further course of the disease, so that those affected should eat healthily and avoid being overweight.
Light sporting exercises can also alleviate the symptoms, although heavy loads on the entire body should be avoided. Sometimes some of those affected are also dependent on the help and support of other people in their everyday life due to osteoarthritis, although contact with other people affected by the disease can also be very useful. As a result, it is not uncommon for information to be exchanged, which can make everyday life easier. The disease does not reduce the life expectancy of the person affected.
You can do that yourself
The term osteoarthritis is often used instead of the term osteoarthritis. Follow-up treatment of osteoarthritis is very important. Due to the often individual course, there are different options for aftercare.
Since osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear on the joints, osteoarthritis itself is not curable. Therefore, the focus of follow-up care is on symptom reduction. Diet is an important factor affecting the course of osteoarthritis, lifestyle, exercise and even mental health. If the patient is overweight, it makes sense to reduce this in the long term and keep the weight in a normal range. The reduction in body weight relieves the affected joints and can reduce the pain in the long run. A healthy lifestyle that strengthens the muscles around the affected areas also helps. 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day is enough. Furthermore, healthy sleep is essential for follow-up care. In this way, the muscles can recover sufficiently and the pain can be reduced.
In addition, there is the possibility of sustainably increasing the quality of life with osteoarthritis through acupuncture, massage therapy and physiotherapy. Which treatment is appropriate should be discussed with a knowledgeable doctor as each patient responds differently to the treatments. Depending on the severity of the arthrosis, additional treatment with medication can also be useful.