What is osteoarthritis?
There are more than 100 forms of arthritis, but the three most significant – osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and gout – account for more than 95 per cent of cases in Australia3. OA is sometimes called degenerative joint disease (DJD), because it is caused by deterioration of cartilage in the joints.
In a normal joint, a protective layer of cartilage covers the ends of the bones. With OA, this cartilage breaks down, and bones in an affected joint begin to rub directly against each other, so the joint can’t move as smoothly.
OA mostly affects people over 45, but it can develop in younger people. Of around 3.85 million OA sufferers in Australia, 2.4 million are of working age4.
There is currently no cure for OA, but there are many effective treatments to control symptoms.
What are primary and secondary osteoarthritis?
Doctors often talk about two kinds of OA. Primary OA is caused by everyday wear and tear, while Secondary OA is caused by a misaligned joint, injury, overuse, or strain on the joint from being overweight.
What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?
If you have OA you may feel discomfort, pain or joint stiffness (which may vary at different times of the day or night) and show signs of swelling and tenderness in one or more joints. You may even hear a crunching sound in your joints as the bones rub directly against each other.
What causes osteoarthritis in different joints?
In many cases, it’s hard to identify a clear cause of OA. But research suggests some things may put certain joints at more risk. For example:
- Knees –a previous knee injury, being overweight or jobs involving kneeling, climbing or squatting.
- Hips –a previous hip injury, being overweight, or jobs involving heavy lifting, such as farming.
- Hands – a family history of OA in the family5.
How is osteoarthritis treated?
To diagnose you properly and offer the right treatment, your doctor will consider your symptoms and medical history, examine your joints, and arrange one or more diagnostic tests. For example, he or she may suggest blood tests, X-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI scan to get a clear view of your joint’s alignment and general condition.
Based on the results of these tests, your doctor will then discuss the best treatment options with you. Depending on the severity of your OA and the pain you’re experiencing, treatments may include:
- Pain relief – using medicines such as paracetamol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Exercise and weight loss – an exercise program designed specifically for you, and a weight loss program if you’re overweight.
- A surgical procedure or joint replacement surgery – if your OA symptoms and pain levels are no longer controlled with other therapies.
Always discuss your treatment options with your doctor.
1, 2 Painful realities: The economic impact of arthritis in Australia 2007 (REPORT BY ACCESS ECONOMICS PTY LIMITED FOR ARTHRITIS AUSTRALIA 31 JULY 2007)
3 “What is arthritis”, Arthritis Australia website (http://www.arthritisaustralia.com.au/index.php/arthritis-information/what-is-arthritis.html) accessed April 2013.
4, 5 “Arthritis Information Sheet: Osteoarthritis”Arthritis Australia website(http://www.arthritisaustralia.com.au/images/stories/documents/info_sheets/2012/Osteoarthritis.pdf) accessed April 2013.
What causes hip pain?
What causes hip pain?
Hip pain is sometimes caused by deformity or injury, but one of the most common causes is osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD). Although affected by things like age, weight, joint function and general activity levels, arthritis in the hip is basically the result of your hip’s cartilage lining wearing away slowly over time, and the bones beginning to rub against each other. This causes friction, swelling, pain, stiffness, and instability.
How does arthritis affect the hip?
Arthritis is one of the most common causes of joint disorders, and is the major cause of disability and chronic pain in Australia, affecting 3.85 million Australians1. And as the average age rises, the number of people with arthritis is also growing. In fact, leading researcher Access Economics suggests 7 million Australians will suffer some form of arthritis by 2050, based on current trends2.
See how arthritis affects the hip in this video:
What can you do about hip pain?
The causes of hip pain include:
What causes knee pain?
What causes knee pain?
Usually, knee pain and loss of mobility is caused by the joint's cartilage lining wearing away. When this happens, the bones rub directly against each other, causing pain and swelling. One of the most common causes is osteoarthritis (OA), which often happens following trauma or direct injury to the knee. Without cartilage, there’s no ‘shock absorber’ between the bones in the joint, so stress builds up in the bones and causes pain and discomfort.
How does arthritis affect the knee?
Arthritis is one of the most common causes of joint disorders, and is a major cause of disability and chronic pain in Australia, affecting around 3.85 million people 1. And as the average age rises, the number of people with arthritis is also growing. In fact, leading researcher Access Economics suggests 7 million Australians will suffer some form of arthritis by 2050, based on current trends2.
Watch this short video to learn how arthritis can affect your knee.