Osteoarthritis: What you need to know

Published On: September, 6, 2022

Osteoarthritis is the most common arthritis form that affects millions of people across the globe. While OA can affect any joint, it often damages the knees, hands, spine, and hips. Also known as wear and tear arthritis, the condition develops when the protective cartilage cushioning the ends of the bone in a joint wears away over time. Joints are parts of the body where two or more bones meet. These parts include your knee, hip, hands, backbone (any part of the body that you can bend has a joint).

The ends of the bones in a joint have a smooth, slippery surface referred to as the cartilage. This protective covering allows the bones to rub against each other without friction. Osteoarthritis causes the wear and tear of the cartilage between the bones, making the joint rough. The increased resistance at the joint causes stiffness, pain, swelling, and decreased ability to move.

While various treatments help in managing the OA symptoms, damaged joints are not reversible. Maintaining a healthy weight and staying active c will also help in slowing the disease progression. Although OA can affect both men and women at any age, individuals aged over 45 years are at an increased risk. Based on the research done by the Arthritis Foundation, osteoarthritis affects more than 27 million people in the USA alone, with the knee being the most susceptible part. Research also shows that women are at an increased risk of developing OA than men.

Osteoarthritis of the knee:

The most common cause of knee pain is knee osteoarthritis. The pain may come and go, become worse over time, or come accompanied by other symptoms, including knee stiffness. The condition develops due to degeneration of the cartilage. While the cartilage does not contain any nerves, damage or missing cartilage in the knee causes friction between bones and bone tissue changes, leading to pain. 

For example, damaged cartilage can lead to various bone changes such as: 

-Bone Spurs: 

Bone spurs, also known as osteophytes, are abnormal bony growth at the knee joints with damaged cartilage. The joint bones produce the bone spurs to compensate for missing or deteriorated cartilage. Bone spurs have an irregular shape that creates more friction in the knee joint, causing discomfort and pain. 

-Subchondral Bone Sclerosis: 

Due to undistributed weight loads, the tibia and femur surfaces, which lie beneath the cartilage, can change in composition, making it harden. 

-Cysts and Bone Marrow Lesions:

Missing or deteriorated knee cartilage can also lead to cysts development and bone marrow lesions (areas of abnormal swelling). These cysts and lesions lead to knee discomfort and pain. 


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