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Alternative namesHypertrophic osteoarthritis; Osteoarthrosis; Degenerative joint disease; DJD; OA
Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease causing deterioration of the joint cartilage (the softer parts of bones, which cushion their connections to each other) and the formation of new bone (bone spurs) at the margins of the joints.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
For most people, the cause of osteoarthritis is unknown, but metabolic, genetic, chemical, and mechanical factors play a role in its development. It is associated with the aging process and is the most common form of arthritis .
It may first appear without symptoms between 30 and 40 years of age and is present in almost everyone by the age of 70. Symptoms generally appear in middle age. Before the age of 55 it occurs equally in both sexes. However, after 55 the incidence is higher in women.
The degeneration of the joint may begin as a result of trauma to the joint, occupational overuse, obesity , or mal-alignment of the joints (for example being bow-legged or knock-kneed).
Note: There may be no symptoms.
Signs and tests
Physical exam can show limited range of motion, grating of a joint with motion, joint swelling, and tenderness.
X-ray of affected joints will show loss of the joint space, and in advanced cases, wearing down of the ends of the bone and bone spurs.
A new class of drugs (called COX 2 inhibitors) that have the anti-inflammatory effects of NSAIDs, but don't upset most people's stomachs are now used commonly. Celebrex, Vioxx, and Bextra are the currently available forms of this type of drug.
Many people are finding benefit from over-the-counter remedies like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. There is some evidence in the medical literature that these supplements are helpful in controlling pain, although they do not appear to grow new cartilage.
Support GroupsThe stress of illness can often be helped by joining a support group where members share common experiences and problems. See arthritis - support group .
Disability with osteoarthritis is less common than with rheumatoid arthritis , but movement may become very limited. Treatment generally improves function.
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Weight reduction in women reduces the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis.
Update Date: 6/12/2002Kevin B. Freedman, M.D., Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation, Loyola University Medical Center, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT