Osteoarthritis: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis which is characterized by the breakdown and eventual loss of the cartilage of one or more joints. It is commonly referred to as wear and tears arthritis. Cartilage is the slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint. When the cartilage is lost the bones rub together and this rubbing may lead to the damage of the joint. Osteoarthritis occurs most often in knees, hips, hands, and foot and it is more common in women.

Osteoarthritis overview IMAGE

Recovery Time

Recovery from joint pains may take some years. Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition which has to be properly maintained by making healthy lifestyle changes, managing stress and depression, avoiding joint damage, and balancing rest and activity.


The doctor uses four main tools to determine diagnosis
  • Medical history of the patient
  • Physical examination of the affected joints
  • X-rays and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Blood tests and joint fluid analysis
  • Joint aspiration for swollen joints

FAQs prepared by doctor

Q1.  What is Osteoarthritis?
OA is the inflammation of the joints due to wear and tear. It usually affects the weight-bearing joints (knee and hip).  It is also called wear and tear or degenerative arthritis.
Q2.  What Causes Osteoarthritis? 
It is caused due to decrease in the cartilage lining the bones due to friction and causing reduction in joint space and synovial fluid. The friction of the nerve endings due to cartilage wear and tear causes pain.
Q3.  What is the treatment for osteoarthritis?
The treatment is usually conservative, with medication to prevent pain and increase cartilage rebuilding. Weight reduction is advised. If the quality of life decreases then joint replacement surgery is advised.
Q4.  How long does it take to cure?
It can not be cured, but we can slow the progression of disease. Joint replacement is the cure.
Q5.  Are there any chance of recurrence?
Once the joint is replaced, the quality of life increases and the patient will be able to do all the work themselves without much difficulty. It cannot recur once it is replaced.
Q6.  How do I prevent arthritis?
Weight reduction, aerobic exercise will help prevent osteoarthritis.
Q7.  What are the tests to diagnose OA?
An X-ray of the involved joint will tell us the degree of OA.  MRI is also helpful but expensive and does not yield any extra information regarding OA.
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