Osteoarthritis (OA, also known as degenerative arthritis, degenerative joint disease), is a disease involving degradation of joints, including articular cartilage and the subchondral bone (the bone under the cartilage.)
Clinical manifestations of OA may include joint pain, tenderness, stiffness, creaking, locking of joints, and sometimes-local inflammation. In OA, a variety of potential forces—hereditary, developmental, metabolic and mechanical—may initiate processes leading to loss of cartilage. As the body struggles to contain ongoing damage, immune and re-growth processes can accelerate damage.
When bone surfaces become less protected by cartilage, subchondral bone may be exposed and damaged, with re-growth leading to an ivory-like, dense, reactive bone in central areas of cartilage loss.
The patient increasingly experiences pain upon weight bearing, including walking and standing. As a result of decreased movement because of the pain, regional muscles may atrophy, and ligaments may become more lax. OA is the most common form of arthritis, and the leading cause of chronic disability in the United States.
Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis
The main symptom is acute pain, causing loss of ability and often stiffness. “Pain” is generally described as a sharp ache, or a burning sensation in the associate muscles and tendons. OA can cause a crackling noise when the affected joint is moved or touched, and patients may experience muscle spasm and contractions in the tendons. Humid and cold weather increases the pain in many patients.
OA commonly affects the hands, feet, spine, and the large weight bearing joints, such as the hips and knees, although in theory, any joint in the body can be affected. As OA progresses, the affected joints appear larger, are stiff and painful, and usually feel worse, the more they are used throughout the day.