General Infomation

Osteoarthritis, sometimes called degenerative joint disease or osteoarthrosis, is the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage in your joints wears down over time.
While osteoarthritis can affect any joint in your body, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your:
• Hands
• Hips
• Knees
• Neck
• Lower back
Osteoarthritis gradually worsens with time, and no cure exists. But osteoarthritis treatments can relieve pain and help you remain active. Taking steps to actively manage your osteoarthritis may help you gain control over your symptoms.


Osteoarthritis symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time. Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
• Pain. Your joint may hurt during or after movement.
• Tenderness. Your joint may feel tender when you apply light pressure to it.
• Stiffness. Joint stiffness may be most noticeable when you wake up in the morning or after a period of inactivity.
• Loss of flexibility. You may not be able to move your joint through its full range of motion.
• Grating sensation. You may hear or feel a grating sensation when you use the joint.
• Bone spurs. These extra bits of bone, which feel like hard lumps, may form around the affected joint.
When to see a doctor
If you have swelling or stiffness in your joints that lasts for more than two weeks, make an appointment with your doctor. If you're already taking medication for osteoarthritis, contact your doctor if you experience side effects such as:
• Nausea
• Abdominal discomfort
• Black or tarry stools
• Constipation
• Drowsiness

Causes & Complication

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones in your joints deteriorates over time. The smooth surface of the cartilage becomes rough, causing irritation. Eventually, if the cartilage wears down completely, you may be left with bone rubbing on bone — causing the ends of your bones to become damaged and your joints to become painful.
It isn't clear what causes osteoarthritis in most cases. Researchers suspect that it's a combination of factors, including:
• The aging process
• Joint injury or stress
• Heredity
• Muscle weakness
• Obesity


Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that worsens over time. Joint pain and stiffness may become severe enough to make getting through the day difficult, if not impossible. Some people are no longer able to work. When joint pain is this severe, doctors typically suggest joint replacement surgery.

Tests and Diagnosis: 

In addition to the physical exam, your doctor may also recommend the following tests.
Imaging tests
• X-rays. X-ray images of your affected joint may reveal a narrowing space within a joint, which indicates that the cartilage is breaking down. An X-ray may also show bone spurs around a joint. However, many people have X-ray evidence of osteoarthritis before they experience any symptoms.
• Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce detailed images of bone and soft tissues, including bone cartilage. This can be helpful in determining what exactly is causing your pain
Lab tests
• Blood tests. Blood tests may help rule out other causes of joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
• Joint fluid analysis. Your doctor may use a needle to draw fluid out of the affected joint. Examining and testing the fluid from your joint can determine if there's inflammation and if your pain is caused by gout or an infection.

Medication & Prevention
Treatments and Drugs: 

These are the treatments available in hospitals for the management of Osteoarthritis. Medical scientists have not been able to treat Osteoarthritis permanently. See us for complete recovery from Osteoarthritis.
• Acetaminophen. Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) can relieve pain, but doesn't reduce inflammation. It has been shown to be effective for people with osteoarthritis who have mild to moderate pain. Taking more than the recommended dosage of acetaminophen can cause liver damage, especially if you consume three or more alcoholic drinks a day. Ask your doctor for guidance on limiting or abstaining from alcohol if you take acetaminophen regularly. Acetaminophen can also affect other medications you may be taking, so be sure to inform your doctor if you're taking it.
• NSAIDs. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve). Stronger versions of these NSAIDs and others are available by prescription. Oral NSAIDs can cause stomach upset, so some prescription NSAIDs come in a patch that you affix to your skin or in a gel form that you can rub on the painful joint. Other NSAID side effects include ringing in your ears, cardiovascular problems, and liver and kidney damage. The risk of major side effects is greatest if you use NSAIDs at high dosages for long-term treatment.
• Tramadol. Tramadol (Ultram) is a centrally acting analgesic that's available by prescription. Tramadol has no anti-inflammatory effect, but can provide effective pain relief with fewer side effects — such as stomach ulcers and bleeding — than those of NSAIDs. However, tramadol may cause nausea and constipation. It's generally used for short-term treatment of acute flare-ups. Your doctor may recommend using tramadol in combination with acetaminophen to increase pain relief.
• Stronger painkillers. Prescription pain pills, such as codeine and propoxyphene (Darvon), may provide relief from more severe osteoarthritis pain. These stronger medications carry a risk of dependence, though that risk is thought to be small in people who have severe pain. Side effects may include nausea, constipation and sleepiness.
• Cortisone shots. Injections of corticosteroid medications may relieve pain in your joint. During this procedure your doctor numbs the area around your joint and then inserts a needle into the space within your joint and injects medication. It isn't clear how or why corticosteroid injections work in people with osteoarthritis. Your doctor may limit the number of injections you can have each year, since too many corticosteroid injections may cause joint damage.
• Work with a physical therapist. Ask your doctor for a referral to a physical therapist. The physical therapist can work with you to create an individualized exercise regimen that will strengthen the muscles around your joint, increase your range of motion in your joint and reduce your pain.
• Find ways to avoid stressing your joints. Find ways to go about your day without stressing your joints. An occupational therapist can help you discover ways to do everyday tasks or do your job without putting extra stress on your already painful joint. For instance, a toothbrush with a large grip could make brushing your teeth easier if you have finger osteoarthritis. A special seat in your shower could help relieve the pain of standing if you have knee osteoarthritis.
• Try braces or shoe inserts. Consider trying special splints, braces, shoe inserts or other medical devices that can help reduce your pain. These devices can immobilize or support your joint to help you keep pressure off it.
• Take a chronic pain class. The Arthritis Foundation and some medical centers have classes for people with osteoarthritis or chronic pain. Ask your doctor about classes in your area or check with the Arthritis Foundation. These classes teach skills that help you manage your osteoarthritis pain. And you'll meet other people with osteoarthritis and learn their tips and tricks for reducing and coping with joint pain.
Surgical and other procedures
• Viscosupplementation. Injections of hyaluronic acid derivatives (Hyalgan, Synvisc) may offer pain relief by providing some cushioning in your knee. These treatments are made of rooster combs and are similar to a component normally found in your joint fluid. Viscosupplementation is only approved for knee osteoarthritis, though researchers are studying its use in other joints.
• Joint replacement. In joint replacement surgery (arthroplasty), your surgeon removes your damaged joint surfaces and replaces them with plastic and metal devices called prostheses. The hip and knee joints are the most commonly replaced joints. But today implants can replace your shoulder, elbow, finger or ankle joints. How long your new joint will last depends on how you use it. Some knee and hip joints can last 20 years. Joint replacement surgery can help you resume an active, pain-free lifestyle. In smaller hand joints, it can also improve appearance and comfort and may improve your joint's mobility. Joint replacement surgery carries a small risk of infection and bleeding. Artificial joints can wear or come loose and may need to eventually be replaced.
• Realigning bones. Surgery to realign bones may relieve pain. These types of procedures are typically used when joint replacement surgery isn't an option, such as in younger people with osteoarthritis. During a procedure called an osteotomy, the surgeon cuts across the bone either above or below the knee to realign the leg. Osteotomy can reduce knee pain by transferring the force of the joint away from the worn-out part of the knee.
• Fusing bones. Surgeons can also permanently fuse bones in a joint (arthrodesis) to increase stability and reduce pain. The fused joint, such as an ankle, can then bear weight without pain, but has no flexibility. Arthrodesis may be an option if you experience severe pain in your joint, but can't undergo joint replacement surgery.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies: 

• Rest. If you're experiencing pain or inflammation in your joint, rest it for 12 to 24 hours. Find activities that don't require you to use your joint repetitively. Try taking a 10-minute break every hour.
• Exercise. With your doctor's approval, get regular exercise when you feel up to it. Stick to gentle exercises, such as walking, biking or swimming. Exercise can increase your endurance and strengthen the muscles around your joint, making your joint more stable. Avoid exercising tender, injured or swollen joints. If you feel new joint pain, stop. New pain that lasts more than two hours after you exercise probably means you've overdone it.
• Lose weight. Being overweight or obese increases the stress on your weight-bearing joints, such as your knees and your hips. Even a small amount of weight loss can relieve some pressure and reduce your pain. Aim to lose 1 or 2 pounds a week, at most. Talk to your doctor about healthy ways to lose weight. Most people combine changes in their diet with increased exercise.
• Use heat and cold to manage pain. Both heat and cold can relieve pain in your joint. Heat also relieves stiffness and cold can relieve muscle spasms. Soothe your painful joint with heat using a heating pad, hot water bottle or warm bath. Heat should be warm, not hot. Apply heat for 20 minutes several times a day. Cool the pain in your joint with cold treatments, such as with ice packs. You can use cold treatments several times a day, but don't use cold treatments if you have poor circulation or numbness.
• Apply over-the-counter pain creams. Creams and gels available at the drugstore may provide temporary relief from osteoarthritis pain. Some creams numb the pain by creating a hot or cool sensation. Other creams contain medications, such as aspirin-like compounds, that are absorbed into your skin. Read the label so that you know what you're using. Pain creams work best on joints that are close the surface of your skin, such as your knees and fingers.
• Use assistive devices. Assistive devices can make it easier to go about your day without stressing your painful joint. A cane may take weight off your knee or hip as you walk. Gripping and grabbing tools may make it easier to work in the kitchen if you have osteoarthritis in your fingers. Your doctor or occupational therapist may have ideas about what sorts of assistive devices may be helpful to you. Catalogs and medical supply stores also may be places to look for ideas.

Alternative Medicine: 

People who aren't helped by medications for osteoarthritis pain sometimes turn to complementary and alternative medicine practices for relief. Mainstream doctors are becoming more open to discussing these options. But, since few complementary therapies have been extensively studied in clinical trials, it's difficult to assess whether these treatments are helpful for osteoarthritis pain. In some cases, the risks of these treatments aren't known.

If you're interested in trying complementary and alternative medicine therapies for your osteoarthritis pain, discuss these treatments with your doctor first. He or she can help you weigh the benefits and risks and tell you if the treatments will interfere with your current osteoarthritis medications.
Common complementary and alternative treatments that have shown some promise for osteoarthritis include:
• Acupuncture. During acupuncture, tiny needles are inserted into your skin at precise spots. Practitioners believe the needles free or redirect your body's energy in order to relieve pain. Studies of acupuncture for knee osteoarthritis have been mixed. Most studies haven't found a benefit, though some have found some short-term relief of pain. Acupuncture can be safe if you select a reputable practitioner — ask your doctor to suggest someone. Risks include infection, bruising and some pain where needles are inserted into your skin.
• Ginger. The ginger plant is best known for its use in cooking, but some research has found ginger extract may be helpful in reducing osteoarthritis pain. Limited studies have been conducted with ginger in people with osteoarthritis, and results have been mixed. Side effects of ginger supplements can include heartburn and diarrhea. Talk to your doctor before taking ginger supplements, since they can interfere with prescription blood-thinning medications such as warfarin (Coumadin).
• Glucosamine and chondroitin. Studies have been mixed on these nutritional supplements. Some have found benefits for people with osteoarthritis, while others haven't. Tell your doctor if you're considering taking these supplements. Don't use glucosamine if you're allergic to shellfish. Glucosamine and chondroitin may interact with blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin) and cause bleeding problems.
• Avocado-soybean unsaponifiables (ASUs). Preliminary results indicate that a particular type of oil from avocado and soybeans, mixed together and taken orally, may slow cartilage degradation and promote cartilage repair in hip and knee joints.

By Anonymous on 01 June 2011