Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones gradually breaks down over time, causing the bones to rub against each other. It can cause pain due to disc degeneration, bone spurs, and spinal stenosis. Simple, everyday movements can hurt.
Most often, the joint wear of osteoarthritis results from a lifetime of use, and people get it when they reach an advanced age. It is a common condition among those over 50. However, younger people may get the condition early in their lives as a result of an injury to the joint.
Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips, and spine. Inflammation and injury to the joint from osteoarthritis causes bony changes, deterioration of tendons and ligaments, and a breakdown of cartilage, resulting in pain, swelling, and joint deformity.
Main Types of Osteoarthritis
There are two main types of osteoarthritis:
- Primary: Most common, generalized, primarily affects the fingers, thumbs, spine, hips, knees, and big toes.
- Secondary: Occurs with a pre-existing joint abnormality, including injury or trauma, such as repetitive or sports-related; inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid, psoriatic, or gout; infectious arthritis; and genetic joint disorders.
Osteoarthritis symptoms can usually be managed, although the damage to joints can’t be reversed. Staying active, maintaining a healthy weight, and some treatments might slow the progression of the disease and help improve pain and joint function.
Other Types of Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is different from the less common but often more severe form of arthritis known as inflammatory arthritis. Inflammatory arthritis includes a group of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout. A problem with the immune system causes inflammatory arthritis, and it usually causes inflammation in many joints throughout the body at the same time. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is typically isolated to a single joint.
Most Common Symptoms
Osteoarthritis symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time. Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
- Pain: Pain is the most common symptom of osteoarthritis. The pain usually occurs when the joint is being moved rather than when it is at rest.
- Stiffness: Joint stiffness in the morning or after other extended periods of inactivity. This symptom usually lasts for less than 20 minutes in the affected joint.
- Tenderness: When light pressure is applied on or near a joint, it may feel tender.
- Loss of flexibility: The joint may not be able to be moved joint through its full range of motion.
- Grating sensation: You might feel a grating sensation when you use the joint, and you might hear popping or crackling. This is called “crepitus.”
- Bone spurs: These extra bits of bone, which feel like hard lumps, can form around the affected joint.
- Swelling: This might be caused by soft tissue inflammation around the joint.
Some people with osteoarthritis may feel little or no pain for unknown reasons. The level of pain each person with osteoarthritis experiences can vary widely depending on many factors, including the disease stage, how each individual’s brain processes pain messages, cultural, gender, and psychological differences.