Learn Everything About Osteoarthritis

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The most prevalent chronic joint disease is osteoarthritis. Degenerative arthritis, wear-and-tear arthritis, and degenerative joint disease are all types of OA.

Bones unite at joints. Cartilage protects bone ends. The joint bones rub together as cartilage breaks down in OA. It can cause discomfort, stiffness, and other symptoms.

Any joint can have OA. The most common bodily parts impacted are:

  • hands
  • fingers
  • shoulder
  • spine, usually neck or lower back
  • hips
  • knees

OA can affect any age group, however it is most common in elderly persons.

Leading cause of disability is OA. It affects almost 32.5 million US people, according to the CDCT rusted Source. Learn about OA treatment, prevention, and more here.
Osteo arthritis signs

OA symptoms most often include:

  • joint discomfort
  • stiffness in joint
  • decreasing flexibility and range of motion
  • finger-pressing soreness or discomfort
  • inflammation

grating, crackling, clicking, or popping noises when joints move

bone spurs—painless bone lumps

Advanced OA may cause considerable discomfort. Over time, the joint and surrounding region may enlarge. Recognizing early OA signs might help you manage the problem.

Causes of arthritis

Damaged joints cause OA. Age is a major source of joint deterioration that leads to OA since it can accumulate. As you age, your joints experience more repeated stress.

Joint injury from other sources includes:

  • previous injury, such as cartilage, joint, or ligament damage
  • joint abnormality
  • obesity
  • bad stance
  • Your risk of OA increases with several variables. Among them:

family with the illness, especially parents or siblings

gender, with women having more OA than males.

being 50 or older, per the Arthritis Foundation

  • having menopaused
  • having a kneeling, climbing, heavy lifting, or similar job
  • an injury history
  • being obese or overweight
  • bad stance
  • diabetes, arthritis, or another joint ailment

Your chance of acquiring OA in other areas increases if you have OA in one. Discover probable OA causes.
Treatment for osteoarthritis

OA therapy focuses on symptoms. The degree and location of your symptoms will determine the best treatment.

Many OTC drugs, lifestyle adjustments, and home remedies can relieve pain, stiffness, and edema.


Several OA medicines can assist. Among them:

Oral painkillers. Tylenol and other painkillers alleviate pain but not edema.

Lotion painkillers. OTC products include lotions, gels, and patches. They numb joints and relieve minor arthritic pain.

NSAIDs. NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) relieve edema and discomfort.

Corticosteroids. Prescription oral medicines are available. You may also inject them into a joint. Example: cortisone plus triamcinolone acetonide (Konalog-40, Zilretta).

Cymbalta. Your doctor may prescribe duloxetine (Cymbalta), an FDA-approved antidepressant, for musculoskeletal discomfort.

Your doctor may suggest OTC remedies first. Discover OTC and prescription OA treatments.

Controlling weight

Being overweight may strain and hurt your joints. Losing weight relieves strain and pain. Diabetics and heart patients can also benefit from modest weight.

Adequate sleep

Resting reduces muscular swelling and inflammation. Be nice to yourself and avoid overdoing. Sleeping well at night might also help you manage discomfort.

See our arthritis-friendly mattress recommendations.

Both heat and cold treatment

Heat or cold treatment can reduce muscular pain and stiffness. Apply a hot or cold compress to aching joints many times a day for 15–20 minutes.


Exercise strengthens joint muscles and reduces stiffness. Try to exercise 20–30 minutes every other day. Go for low-impact activities like walking or swimming. Tai chi and yoga may reduce pain and increase joint flexibility.

Bottom line on therapy

These methods can reduce symptoms and enhance quality of life. Complete OA therapy list.

Arthritis complications

Physical effects from arthritis, particularly OA, are widely established. OA may also affect emotions.

  • Physical issues:
  • bad sleep
  • weight increase from pain or immobility
  • osteonecrosis—bone death
  • tendon and ligament erosion
  • hairline stress fractures
  • Joint bleeding, hemarthrosis

Loss of function causes worry and despair. Learn about additional OA issues.

Cartilage and osteoarthritis

Bone is harder than cartilage, which is springy and flexible. It allows joint bones to move freely by protecting their ends.

When cartilage breaks down, bone surfaces become pitted and rough. This can cause joint discomfort and tissue irritation. Due to its lack of blood arteries, cartilage cannot mend itself.

When cartilage goes away entirely, bone-on-bone contact occurs without a cushion. Pain and other OA symptoms might result from bone-on-bone contact. Additional information regarding cartilage, joints, and OA.

Very severe arthritis

Five phases of OA development from 0 to 4. First stage (0) is a standard joint. Stage 4 is severe OA. Not all OA patients reach stage 4. Usually, the situation stabilizes before this stage.

Severe OA causes joint cartilage loss. This bone-on-bone friction can produce severe symptoms like:

Enhanced inflammation. Joint synovial fluid may rise. This fluid usually reduces movement friction. Large levels might induce joint swelling. Fragments of fractured cartilage may float in synovial fluid, causing discomfort and swelling.

Pain increases. You may experience discomfort when moving and resting. If you utilize your joints a lot, you may experience greater discomfort or swelling throughout the day.

Reduced mobility. Stiffness or soreness in your joints may limit your mobility. The daily chores that used to be easy may be tougher.

Unstable joints. Your joints may weaken. If you have severe knee OA, you may lock or buckle. The buckle can cause falls and injuries.

Other symptoms. Joint wear can cause muscular weakness, bone spurs, and deformity.

Severe OA causes irreversible joint deterioration, however therapy can alleviate symptoms. Learn all about advanced OA.

Osteoarthritis vs. RA

OA and RA have similar symptoms but are separate diseases. OA worsens with time since it is degenerative. However, RA is autoimmune.

The immune systems of RA patients perceive the soft lining around joints for a danger and attack it. The synovium is the soft lining with synovial fluid. The immune system attacks, causing joint fluid accumulation. This causes stiffness, discomfort, edema, and inflammation.

Consult your doctor if you’re unsure of your arthritis kind. Your own preliminary study is possible. Examine RA and OA differences.

The diagnosis of osteoarthritis

Slow disease progression is typical in OA. Before severe or debilitating symptoms appear, it is difficult to diagnose. Broken bones typically require X-rays to identify early OA.

Your doctor may diagnose OA via MRIs and X-rays. This radio wave and magnetic field imaging exam scans bone and soft tissue.

A blood test can rule out RA and other joint pain diseases. Synovial fluid analysis can also establish gout or infection as the source of inflammation.

Use our Find Care tool to find a primary care doctor.

Arthritis exercises

Gentle stretching exercises can aid OA patients with knee, hip, and back stiffness or discomfort. Stretching improves mobility and range of motion.

Ask your doctor before starting any workout routine to be sure it’s good for you. Try these hip exercises if stretching is okay.

Osteoarthritis natural therapies

Alternative therapies and supplements may reduce inflammation and joint discomfort. Herbal remedies or supplements may help:

  • fish oil
  • green tea
  • ginger

Alternative treatments include:

  • acupuncture
  • physical therapy
  • massage treatment

Other therapies include Epsom salt baths and hot or cold compresses.

Consult your doctor before using any herbs or supplements. This will guarantee they are safe, effective, and won’t interact with other prescriptions.

Interested in more natural OA home remedies? Here are more proven ones.

Diet for arthritis

Healthy eating has no downsides. Diet and nutrition are crucial for OA patients.

First, maintain a reasonable weight to avoid joint stress.

A 2020 review reveals that flavonoids may help knee OA. Fruits and vegetables contain flavonoids.

Antioxidants in many fruits and vegetables may also fight inflammation-induced free radicals. Chemicals called free radicals harm cells.

High-quality diets may reduce inflammation and edema in OA patients. Eating these foods can be beneficial:

  • C vitamin
  • vitamin D
  • beta-carotene
  • Fatty acids omega-3

Consuming more anti-inflammatory foods will also help. See more reasons and techniques to eat healthy with OA.

Hand osteoarthritis

OA may damage many hand locations. These regions generally include:

  • distal interphalangeal joint, nearest to nail
  • proximal interphalangeal joint, each finger’s middle joint
  • joint between thumb and wrist
  • wrist

Symptoms depend on afflicted joints. Frequent symptoms include:

  • stiffness
  • pain
  • swelling
  • redness
  • weakness
  • finger movement issues
  • restricted motion
  • finger crepitus when moving
  • difficulty retaining stuff

Hand OA is more common in women and develops earlier. Hand OA can impair daily duties. However, lifestyle modifications and surgery can help. Learn about hand OA and treatment.

Hip osteoarthritis

One or both hips might have OA. This distinguishes it from RA, which affects both hips simultaneously.

Hip OA deteriorates slowly. Medication, exercise, and physical therapy help many patients manage their symptoms for years. Supports like canes assist.

Steroid injections, other drugs, or surgery can help if the problem worsens. New technology and alternative medicines may assist. Learn about hip OA treatment options here.

Knee osteoarthritis

Like hip OA, knee OA can affect one or both knees. Age, genetics, and knee injuries may cause knee OA.

Running and tennis players may be at risk of OA if they focus on one sport. Using only one sort of exercise may overdo certain muscles and underuse others.

Knee weakness and instability result from overuse. Varying your activities strengthens all knee muscles by working various muscle groups.

Treatment for knee OA varies on its stage. Discover knee OA stages and treatments.

Arthritis knee brace

Nonsurgical knee OA therapy includes knee braces. Braces reduce edema and pressure. They can also stabilize your knee by moving weight away from the affected portion. This improves movement.

There are several knee braces. Custom-fitted and OTC options are available. Your doctor may suggest trying different braces for different hobbies. Discover your finest OA brace.

Cervical arthritis

As cervical spondylosis or neck OA, This age-related illness affects approximately 85% of adults over 60, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

Facet joints form the cervical spine in the neck. These joints assist preserve spine flexibility and range of motion. Cervical OA occurs when facet joint cartilage deteriorates.

Not all cervical OA patients have symptoms. It may cause mild to severe symptoms like:

  • shoulder blade, arm, or finger discomfort
  • weakening of muscles
  • stiff neck
  • headache, particularly behind your head
  • arm or leg tingling or numbness

Sometimes more significant symptoms like bladder, bowel, or balance loss occur. These symptoms require emergency medical attention. Cervical OA risk factors and treatments.

Spinal osteoarthritis

Back discomfort may suggest spinal OA. This disease affects spine facet joints.

Spinal OA risk factors include age and trauma. Overweight people and those who squat and sit may also be at danger.

The intensity of spinal OA symptoms varies. Among them:

  • back joint stiffness or soreness
  • arm or leg weakness, numbness, or tingling
  • restricted motion

Attention to these signs is crucial. Symptoms and impairment might worsen without therapy for spinal OA. Learn about spine OA.

Prevention of osteoarthritis

Heredity and age may be unchangeable OA risk factors. However, other risk factors are manageable. Manage them to lower OA risk.

Tips for managing controllable risk factors:

Support your body. Sporty people should take care of their bodies. Wear knee-friendly shoes and athletic supports. Make careful to mix up your sports to engage all your muscles.

Keep weight modest. Maintain a healthy BMI for your height and sex.

Healthy eating. Choose fruits and vegetables from a variety of nutritious meals.

Get adequate rest. Allow your body to relax and sleep.

Monitoring your blood sugar can help you manage OA risk if you have diabetes. Find additional OA preventive advice.

Osteo arthritis outlook

Chronic OA has no cure. Treatment improves the prognosis.

Do not disregard persistent joint pain and stiffness. Consult a doctor early to get a diagnosis, start treatment, and improve your quality of life.

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