What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis (a wear and tear disease of the joints). It is not only painful, but can also cause stiffness and may limit your ability to move around freely.
What causes osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is often associated with wear and tear, and occurs most often in people aged 45 and over. Several factors can increase your risk of osteoarthritis:
- genetic factors
- gender (the condition is higher in females)
- high bone density.
Signs and symptoms
These can include:
- joint pain, most commonly in the hips, knees and small hand joints
- inflammation and swelling
- bony growths around the joints
- a grating sensation when a joint is moved
- reduced function and mobility.
Diagnosis of osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is usually diagnosed from a healthcare professional’s physical examination. X-rays may also show signs of wear and tear, but these do not always link well with the experience of pain. In some instances a doctor might take a sample of the synovial fluid from the joint for testing.
Treatment and management of osteoarthritis
The most effective treatment plan for osteoarthritis usually involves a range of strategies, including lifestyle changes.
- Weight management is important to reduce the strain on your joints.
- Exercise offers many benefits – not only can it help to strengthen the muscles supporting your joints, but it can also improve heart health and mood.
- Medications, such as paracetamol and/or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medications, may be helpful.
- Manipulation and stretching and the application of local heat or cold may be considered.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may be recommended.
- Based on current scientific evidence, glucosamine or chondroitin products are not recommended for treatment of osteoarthritis.
Where to get help
This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.