An in-depth report on the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the most common form of arthritis.
Arthritis - osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that typically affects joints in the knees, hip, hand, feet, and spine. It is the most common form of arthritis.
- Older age. Osteoarthritis usually occurs in older adults.
- Women. Osteoarthritis occurs more often in women than in men (although among those younger than age 45, men are affected more often than women).
- Obesity. Being overweight increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis.
- Joint injuries. Sports injuries or occupational repetitive stress can lead to osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis begin gradually and worsen slowly over time. Osteoarthritis pain is generally described as:
- A sensation of aching or stiffness
- Worsening during activity and improving when at rest
- Increase pain with use after period of rest
- Occurring intermittently
- Causing a grating sensation when the joint is moved
Osteoarthritis is usually diagnosed based on a physical exam and the results of x-rays. In some cases, the doctor may take a sample of synovial fluid from the joint.
There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but treatment can reduce pain and improve flexibility, joint movement, and quality of life. Treatment options include:
- Lifestyle modifications and non-drug approaches such as exercise, weight loss, and physical therapy
- Braces to improve stability or realignment of the limb to offload the osteoarthrits
- Medications, including acetaminophen, NSAIDs. or corticosteroid injections
- Surgery, which may be considered for severe osteoarthritis that is not helped by other treatments
Newer Drugs Being Studied
Tanexumab is monoclonal antibody agent being studied. It targets a protein called nerve growth factor, a substance that regulates pain. A clear role for this drug, as well as assurance of safety are being studied.