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What You Should Know About
Osteoarthritis (OA)

In excess of 8.5 million people in the United Kingdom suffer from aching joints caused by osteoarthritis (OA). Men and women in their later years are more likely to develop OA; X-ray studies reveal that at least half of people over 65 have osteoarthritis.

The most common chronic joint ailment is OA. Wear-and-tear arthritis, degenerative arthritis, and degenerative joint disease are all terms used to describe OA.

A joint is a point where two bones meet. The protective tissue that surrounds the ends of the bones is called cartilage. This cartilage breaks down as a result of OA, causing the bones of the joint to rub together. Pain, stiffness, and other symptoms may result.

OA can affect any joint. However, the following are the most typically affected bodily parts:

  • Fingers
  • Hands
  • Hips
  • Knees
  • Shoulder
  • Spine, typically at the neck or lower back
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Osteoarthritis Treatment

The focus of OA treatment is on symptom management. The type of treatment that will help you the most will be determined by the degree and location of your symptoms.

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, lifestyle adjustments, and home remedies are frequently enough to provide pain, stiffness, and swelling relief.


A variety of OA drugs are available to help provide relief. Among them are:

  • Pain remedies are taken orally. Paracetamol and other pain medicines can aid with pain relief but not with swelling.
  • Pain remedies are applied topically. These over-the-counter medications come in creams, gels, and patches. They numb the joint area and provide pain relief, particularly for mild arthritis discomfort.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). Ibuprofen and naproxen are NSAIDs that help reduce swelling and pain.
  • Corticosteroids. Oral versions of several prescription drugs are available. They can also be delivered as a direct injection into a joint. Cortisone and triamcinolone acetonide are two examples.
  • Cymbalta. An antidepressant for the treatment of musculoskeletal pain.

As a preliminary step, your doctor may suggest OTC remedies. Learn more about over-the-counter and prescription OA drugs.

Osteoarthritis Symptoms

The following are the most prevalent OA symptoms:

  • Joint pain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Restricted range of motion and lack of flexibility
  • Soreness or discomfort when pressing your fingers on the afflicted areas
  • Inflammation
  • When you move your joints, you may hear grating, crackling, clicking, or popping sounds.
  • Bone spurs are masses of excess bone that are usually painless.

The pain associated with OA may become more acute as it progresses. Swelling in the joint and surrounding area may develop over time. Learn how to spot the signs and symptoms of OA early on so you can better treat the condition.


OA is a condition that takes time to develop. It can be difficult to diagnose until it causes pain or incapacitating symptoms. Early OA is frequently diagnosed following an accident or other incident that results in a fracture that necessitates an X-ray.

Your doctor may use an MRI to diagnose OA in addition to X-rays. This imaging technique creates images of bone and soft tissue using radio waves and a magnetic field.

A blood test to rule out other disorders that cause joint discomfort, such as RA, is another diagnostic test. Synovial fluid analysis can also assist identify whether your inflammation is caused by gout or an infection.


Joint damage is the cause of OA. Because this damage can build up over time, age is one of the biggest causes of joint damage that leads to OA. Your joints have been subjected to increased repetitive stress as you become older.

Joint injury can also be caused by:

  • Previous injuries such as torn cartilage, a dislocated joints, or ligament tears
  • Joint abnormality
  • Obesity
  • Bad posture


Arthritis, including OA, is widely known for causing physical difficulties. OA can also create emotional issues.

Physical issues might include:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Weight increase due to discomfort or restricted mobility
  • Bone death, or osteonecrosis
  • Ligaments and tendons are eroding.
  • Stress cracks at the hairline
  • Hemarthrosis is a condition in which there is bleeding at the joints.

Anxiety and despair are two emotional difficulties brought on by the loss of function. Find out about other OA complications.

Cartilage & Osteoarthritis

Cartilage is softer than bone strong, rubbery, and flexible. Its job is to shield the ends of bones in a joint so that they can move freely against one other.

These bone surfaces become pitted and rough when cartilage breaks down. This might result in joint pain as well as irritation of the surrounding tissues. Because cartilage lacks blood arteries, damaged cartilage cannot mend itself.

When cartilage is entirely worn away, the cushioning buffer it provides vanishes, allowing bone-on-bone contact to occur. Bone-on-bone contact can produce excruciating pain and other OA symptoms. Here’s some more information about cartilage, joints, and OA.

Severe osteoarthritis

OA is a chronic disease with five stages ranging from 0 to 4. A typical joint is represented by the first stage (0). Severe OA is represented by stage 4. Not everyone with OA will advance to stage 4 of the disease. Long before this stage, the illness usually stabilises.

In people with severe OA, cartilage loss is substantial or total in one or more joints. The resulting bone-on-bone friction might result in serious symptoms such as:

  • Swelling and inflammation have increased. It’s possible that the amount of synovial fluid in the joint will grow. This fluid normally aids in the reduction of friction during movement. In larger doses, however, it might induce joint swelling. Broken-off cartilage fragments may also float in the synovial fluid, causing pain and oedema.
  • Increased discomfort. You may have pain both during and after activities. If you’ve utilised your joints a lot throughout the day, you may notice an increase in pain or swelling in your joints as the day goes on.
  • The range of motion has been reduced. You may be unable to move as freely as you would want due to stiffness or soreness in your joints. This can make it difficult to enjoy the little pleasures that used to come readily.
  • Instability of joints. It’s possible that your joints will become less stable. If you have severe OA in your knees, for example, you may feel locking (a sudden lack of mobility) or buckling (when your knee gives out). Buckling can lead to injuries and falls.
  • Other symptoms. Muscle weakening, bone spurs, and joint deformity can all arise as a joint wears down.

Although severe OA causes permanent joint deterioration, therapy can significantly alleviate symptoms. Discover all there is to know about advanced OA.


Osteoarthritis vs. rheumatoid arthritis

Although OA and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have similar symptoms, they are very different diseases. OA is a degenerative disease, which means that its severity worsens over time. In contrast, RA is an autoimmune condition.

The immune systems of people with RA misunderstand the soft lining around joints as a threat to the body, prompting the body to fight it. The synovium is the soft lining that contains the synovial fluid. Fluid builds up in the joint when the immune system goes on the attack. Stiffness, discomfort, oedema, and inflammation result.

If you’re not sure about the type of arthritis you have, you should consult your doctor. You can also conduct preliminary research on your own. Examine the differences between RA and OA in greater detail.


If you have OA, gentle stretching exercises can be quite beneficial, especially if you experience stiffness or pain in your knees, hips, or back. Stretching can help you enhance your range of motion and mobility.

Before commencing any fitness programme, see your doctor ensure that it is the best course of action for you. Try these hip exercises if stretching exercises are approved.

Natural remedies

Symptoms like inflammation and joint pain may be relieved with alternative treatments and supplements. The following vitamins or herbs may be beneficial:

  • Fish oil
  • Green tea
  • Ginger

Alternative treatments include the following:

Other treatment options include Epsom salt baths and hot or cold compresses.

Before you use any vitamins, minerals or supplements, consult a doctor. This will guarantee that they are safe, effective, and won’t interact with any other prescriptions you’re currently taking.


There are no drawbacks to consuming a healthy diet. Diet and nutrition are extremely crucial if you have OA.

To begin, keep your weight in a moderate range to avoid putting excessive strain on your joints.

According to a review published in 2020, some kinds of OA, such as OA of the knee, react well to a diet rich in flavonoids. Fruits and vegetables include flavonoids, which are nutrients.

Antioxidants contained in many fruits and vegetables may also help fight inflammation-induced free radicals. Free radicals are chemicals that have the potential to harm cells.

By reducing inflammation and swelling, a high-quality diet may assist provide relief from OA symptoms. Eating foods that are high in the following nutrients can be quite beneficial:

Increasing your consumption of anti-inflammatory foods will also help. More reasons and strategies for eating properly while living with OA can be found here.

Osteoarthritis in the Hands

One or more parts of your hands may be affected by OA. These areas frequently include:

  • The joint nearest to the nail is the distal interphalangeal joint.
  • The middle joint of each finger is called the proximal interphalangeal joint.
  • The thumb and wrist are connected by this joint.
  • Wrist

The symptoms that develop are mostly determined by the joints that are afflicted. Typical symptoms include:

  • Stiffness
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Weakness
  • You’re having problems moving your fingers
  • The range of motion is restricted
  • As you move your fingers, crepitus
  • Having difficulty grabbing or clinging onto objects

Women are more likely than males to develop OA in their hands, and they usually do so at a younger age. OA in the hands can significantly impair your capacity to do daily duties. Treatments ranges from lifestyle changes to surgery. Find out more about hand OA and how to treat it.

Osteoarthritis of the hips

Hip OA can affect one or both hips. It differs from RA in that it commonly affects both hips at the same time.

OA in the hip is a progressive degenerative disease. Many people find that by utilising medications, exercise, and physical therapy, they may control their symptoms for years. Supports such as canes can also be beneficial.

Steroid injections, other drugs, or surgery may be used if the problem worsens. Alternative remedies may also be beneficial, and new technologies are on the way. Here’s everything you need to know about hip OA treatment options.

Osteoarthritis of the knees

Knee OA, like hip OA, can affect one or both knees. Knee OA may be caused by age, genetics, or a knee injury.

Athletes who focus entirely on one sport that requires significant, repetitive action, such as running or tennis, maybe at a higher risk of developing OA. Similarly, if you exclusively engage in one form of physical activity, you may overwork some muscles while underworking others.

Overuse of the knee joint leads to weakening and instability. Varying your activities allows you to work for different muscle groups, strengthening all of the muscles around your knee.

The treatment for knee OA is determined by the stage of the disease. Learn about the different stages of OA and how they’re treated.

Osteoarthritis knee brace

A great nonsurgical treatment for knee OA is to wear a brace around your knee. Swelling and pressure can be reduced with braces. They can help improve knee stability by redistributing your weight away from the injured area. This gives you more movement.

Knee braces come in a variety of styles. Some may be custom-made for you, while others are off-the-shelf. Your doctor may suggest that you try a variety of braces for certain activities. Find out which form of brace is best for your OA.

Cervical osteoarthritis

Cervical osteoarthritis is sometimes known as cervical spondylosis or neck OA. It’s an age-related disorder that affects more than 85 percent of persons over 60.

Facet joints are found in the cervical spine, which is positioned in the neck. These joints serve to keep the spine flexible and allow for a full range of motion. Cervical OA develops when the cartilage around the facet joints begins to wear away.

Cervical OA is not usually accompanied by symptoms. If it happens, the following symptoms can occur, ranging from moderate to severe:

  • Muscular weakness in your shoulder blade, down your arm, or in your fingers
  • Rigidity of the neck
  • A headache in the back of your head
  • Numbness or tingling in your arms or legs

More significant symptoms, such as loss of bladder control, bowel control, or balance, can develop in rare cases. If you encounter these symptoms, seek medical attention right once. Examine the causes of cervical OA and the treatments available.

Osteoarthritis of the spine

If you suffer back discomfort, it could be a sign of spinal OA. The facet joints in the spine are affected by this disorder.

Both age and spinal trauma are potential risk factors for spinal OA. A person who is overweight or has a job that needs crouching and sitting may be at risk.

The severity of the symptoms of spinal OA can vary. Among them are:

  • Stiffness or soreness in your back joints
  • Tingling, numbness, or weakness in your arms or legs
  • The range of motion is restricted

It’s critical to pay attention to these signs and symptoms. Spinal OA can progress without therapy, leading to more severe symptoms and impairment. Learn more about OA in the spine.

Osteoarthritis Prevention

You may be predisposed to OA due to factors such as heredity and age. Other risk factors, on the other hand, can be managed. Managing them can help you lower your chances of developing OA.

The following suggestions can assist you in managing risk variables that are under your control:

  • Support your body. Make sure you take care of your body if you’re an athlete or a regular exerciser. Wear athletic supports and low-impact shoes to protect your knees. Make careful to mix up your sports so that all of your muscles, not just the same ones, receive a workout.
  • Maintain healthy body weight. Maintain a body mass index that is appropriate for your height and gender.
  • Consume a healthy diet. Choose a wide variety of healthful foods, with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables.
  • Get plenty of rest. Allow your body to recover and sleep as much as possible.Keeping monitoring of your blood sugar can also help you manage your risk of OA if you have diabetes. Learn more about OA prevention.


OA is a chronic disease for which there is no cure. However, with treatment, the future is bright.

Chronic joint pain and stiffness are not to be overlooked. You can get a diagnosis, start treatment, and improve your quality of life sooner if you speak with a doctor.