What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It is a disease that affects about 17% of the population, especially the older ones. It is estimated today that 66% of patients with osteoarthritis are over 40 years old. OA affects women more than men. It can be defined as a chronic attack of the joints gradually leading to an abnormal destruction of the cartilage. It is the most common rheumatism. Osteoarthritis is a chronic silent disease that progresses slowly without the patient noticing it. It can affect all joints. The most common joints affected by osteoarthritis are the hips, knees, spine and fingers. Often, the daily discomfort associated with osteoarthritis is variable and moderate pain increases at the end of the day. We recommend that you leave a joint at rest during these seizures. However, it is important to say that there is not necessarily a relationship between the importance of visible lesions on X-rays and your pain. In other words, a “serious” osteoarthritis on the radios can not cause any pain and it is possible that you feel significant pains while the X-rays do not show significant damage.
Causes of osteoarthritis
When one suffers from osteoarthritis, whatever the age, one always tries to know the cause. The causes that cause osteoarthritis are not all very clear. However, instead of talking about the causes of osteoarthritis, it is better to talk about factors that promote the onset or aggravation of osteoarthritis. It is :
–Age: There is a very strong relationship between age and the increase in the frequency of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis indeed a disease that increases with age. It is now considered that 66% of patients with osteoarthritis are over 40 years old and 80% of people over 75 also have osteoarthritis. But that does not mean that it is normal to have osteoarthritis when you get older. It’s a real disease.
–Obesity: Excess weight promotes the appearance and / or aggravation of osteoarthritis. Indeed, obesity is responsible for an excess of load that can have harmful consequences on your joints. Overweight causes excessive pressure on the joints whose cartilage will wear out faster. Obesity particularly affects the joints working in charge such as the spine and especially the knee. Osteoarthritis of the knee is called gonarthrosis. Overweight people are estimated to be 5 times more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis than people of normal body size. If you are overweight and suffer from osteoarthritis, it will be very beneficial for you to lose weight, either by doing a sport or by changing your diet. Indeed, when an obese person loses only 10% of his weight, it relieves a great deal of pain related to osteoarthritis.
– Heredity: the genetic factor, even if it is not predominant, also plays a role in the onset of osteoarthritis. Thanks to studies that have been conducted on twins, we know that certain forms of osteoarthritis have a more or less important genetic component. The heritability of osteoarthritis varies depending on the location. It is known to be about 40% in the knee, 60% in the hip, 65% in the hands and 70% in the spine.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis
The symptoms of osteoarthritis change from one person to another. In about half of cases, osteoarthritis, although visible on X-ray, does not cause any symptoms. It is said that the disease is silent or asymptomatic. However, in some cases, symptoms may appear. Pain is the main symptom of osteoarthritis. It changes according to the affected joint. The pain is of “mechanical” type because it has the following characteristics:
it is provoked and amplified by the movement
it disappears or diminishes when the joint is at rest
-It is often less important in the morning, then it increases in the day to reach its maximum in the evening
-It usually prevents sleep, but it can also cause awakenings during the night
– it reappears when the affected joint is subjected to an effort: walking for osteoarthritis hip, climb a staircase when it’s knee, and raise the arm for the shoulder …
Functional discomfort is a reduction in mobility of the joint affected by osteoarthritis. It changes according to the activity that the person practices. So, a football player will be much more embarrassed by osteoarthritis of the knee than a patient who does not practice any sport. Just as a guitarist will be very embarrassed by osteoarthritis of the fingers, even if it is light. Osteoarthritic joints are usually neither red nor hot. They can be swollen when a fluid effusion (effusion of synovium) is established, which is particularly common in the knees.
The diagnosis of osteoarthritis
In the vast majority of cases, the doctor can diagnose osteoarthritis after you have asked questions about your symptoms (nature and intensity of your pain, presence of joint discomfort) and have carefully examined you. However, there is only standard radiography of the joint showing characteristic images that can confirm the diagnosis. The latter will help to find the main features of osteoarthritis. The use of more sophisticated examinations such as CT or MRI is rare. But it can be useful especially in the beginner cases, in the young subjects, or when one looks for the associated attacks.
Osteoarthritis and arthritis: commonalities and differences
When one or more of your joints hurts, it’s not always easy to know if it’s arthritis or arthritis. Although osteoarthritis and arthritis are two pathologies of the family of rheumatism, they have differences. Osteoarthritis is a “mechanical” damage to the joint, this means that the cartilage deteriorates largely because of aging, because of wear. As for arthritis, it is an inflammatory disorder of the joint with the secretion of a substance: the quinines. Quinines cause destruction of the joint. Arthritis is caused by an infection. To put it simply, osteoarthritis hurts when we walk, when we run, when we make efforts, osteoarthritis hurts mechanically during the day. When it comes to arthritis, on the other hand, the pain is inflammatory, nocturnal, at the end of the night, and it is not calmed by rest. The causes and treatments of these two pathologies are therefore very different.