Osteoarthritis: Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

by | Jul 5, 2019 |

Osteoarthritis is a very common form of joint disease, which affects millions of people across the world. It occurs when cartilage degenerates from joint bones. Therefore, it is also known as osteoarthrosis or degenerative arthritis. Osteoarthritis is characterized by joint inflammation, which can be occurred by aging, injury, and heredity. It affects any joint in the body, but it impacts the joints which move a lot in daily life and wear most of the body weight such as hands, hips, knees, and spine.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Joint pain is the most common symptom experienced by the affected people, who develop pain slowly and worsen later. Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Joint stiffness experienced mostly after being inactive or awakening
  • Tenderness feels after applying light pressure around the affected joints
  • The grating sensation feels during the use of the joint or sometimes hears crackling or popping around the joints
  • Bone spurs (extra bone bits) feel like hard lumps around the affected joints


The leading cause of osteoarthritis is the cartilage degeneration. Cartilage is a smooth, connective, and slippery tissue that acts as a cushion between the bones of joint and reduces friction between joints. Eventually, when the bone loses cartilage completely, bone surface converted to rougher, ultimately joints do not move as smoothly as they should be; which results in joint pain or stiffness. Including cartilage deterioration, other connective tissues of bones that hold the joints also damage, and then muscle start attaching to bones, which causes inflammation or irritation at the joint lining.


Osteoarthritis becomes worse over time, and affected people can experience the following complications:

  • Chondrolysis (progressive loss of cartilage)
  • Osteonecrosis (Bone death)
  • Bleeding inside the joint
  • Patients depress when they are unable to move and depend on others for their work
  • Depression and sleep disturbances are possible when patients experience severe joint pain
  • Gout diseases may appear in the osteoarthritis patients later because, after the damage of cartilage, bone can encourage the formation of sodium urate crystals in the joints which causes severe pain and swelling
  • Deterioration of the ligaments and tendons around the joint

Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis

For the diagnosis of osteoarthritis, the specialist will ask about symptoms and perform a physical examination of the affected joints. He will then suggest the following tests:

  • X-rays: X-rays image provide detail of cartilage loss, narrowing of the bones space or deposition of calcium in the joint.
  • MRI Scan: It helps to provide a more detailed image of damaged joints, cartilage or soft tissue.
  • Blood test: There is no blood test for osteoarthritis, but to rule out other types of arthritis, the doctor may recommend a blood test.
  • Joint fluid analysis: The fluid from an affected joint is tested to determine whether the pain is caused by osteoarthritis or gout or infection.

Prevention & Treatment

Currently, there is no treatment available for osteoarthritis, but the following treatment options can minimize the joint pain and provide better movements:

  • Medications: Acetaminophen, duloxetine, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used to treat mild to chronic osteoarthritis pain.
  • Injections: Cortisone and lubrication injection provide relief from severe osteoarthritis pain.
  • Therapy: Lifestyle changes such as weight loss, physical activities can lessen joint pain and stiffness. Physical therapy helps to strengthen the muscle and increase the flexibility of joints. Occupational therapy provides different ways to do the daily task without putting any extra stress on affected joints.
  • Surgical procedures: Joint replacement surgery is used for replacement of affected joints with metal or plastic parts. Knee osteotomy is also helpful when one side of the knee has been damaged. In this surgery, the doctor cut the bone and then adds or remove a wedge of bone, which helps to reshape the bones.
  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture provides relieve to joint pain when thin needles are inserted into the skin at precise spots.

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