Updated May 14th, 2024 at 21:45 IST

Understanding Osteoarthritis: Symptoms, Stages, And Management

This common degenerative joint disease that affects millions is characterised by joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation.

Osteoarthritis | Image:Unsplash
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Osteoarthritis is a common degenerative joint disease that affects millions, characterized by joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation. As the most prevalent form of arthritis. impacting approximately 32.5 million individuals, it can significantly reduce mobility and degrade quality of life, as per a Healthline report. However, with appropriate management strategies, the progression of the disease can be slowed.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis

The severity and location of osteoarthritis influence its symptoms. Common indicators include:

Joint Pain: Persistent discomfort in the joints.

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Stiffness: Joints may feel stiff, particularly after periods of inactivity or in the morning.

Reduced Flexibility: Limited ability to move the joint through its full range of motion.

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Tenderness: Mild discomfort or pain when pressing on the joint.

Inflammation: Swelling around the joint area.

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Crepitus: A grating or crackling sound when the joint is moved.

Bone Spurs: Extra bone growths that are typically painless.

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As the condition advances, symptoms like swelling become more pronounced and pain intensifies, often becoming more constant.

Common types of osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis can affect any joint but commonly impacts the knees and hips. Variants of the condition include:

Osteoarthritis of the hands, fingers, and shoulders.

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Spinal osteoarthritis, which includes cervical spondylosis affecting the neck.

Each location can exhibit specific symptoms and challenges. The condition is progressive, meaning it can worsen over time or spread to other joints.

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Image credit: Unsplash

Stages of Osteoarthritis

The progression of osteoarthritis is typically divided into four stages:

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Stage 1 (Mild): Early symptoms appear but with minimal cartilage damage.
Stage 2 (Moderate): Increased discomfort and more noticeable deterioration of cartilage.
Stage 3 (Advanced): Frequent pain, especially under weight-bearing conditions, with significant cartilage loss.
Stage 4 (Severe): Severe symptoms including intense pain and stiffness, reduced mobility, and joint instability which might cause the joint to lock or buckle.

Image credit: Unsplash

Managing osteoarthritis

Treatment options for osteoarthritis include medications to reduce pain and inflammation, lifestyle modifications like exercise and weight management, and in some cases, surgery. These interventions aim to alleviate symptoms and improve joint function.

Early detection and proactive management are crucial for maintaining an active lifestyle and managing the effects of osteoarthritis. Regular consultation with healthcare providers can help tailor treatment plans to individual needs, potentially slowing the progression of the disease and enhancing life quality.

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Published May 14th, 2024 at 21:45 IST