Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the protective cartilage that covers the ends of bones wears down over time.
OA is typically the result of wear, tear and progressive loss of articular cartilage. It is most common in elderly people and can be divided into two types, primary and secondary: Primary osteoarthritis is articular degeneration without any apparent underlying cause. Secondary osteoarthritis is the consequence of either an abnormal concentration of force across the joint e.g., post-traumatic or abnormal articular cartilage e.g., rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Many risk factors contribute to developing of OA e.g., older age, sex (F>M), obesity, joint injuries, repeated stress on the joint, genetics and bone deformities. Any joint in the body may be affected by the disease, but it is particularly common in the knee. Common clinical symptoms include knee pain that is gradual in onset and worse with activity, stiffness, swelling and pain after prolonged sitting or resting.
If you suffer from OA, your doctor will talk with you about your symptoms and medical history, conduct a physical examination, and possibly order X-rays and blood tests.
Initial treatment always begins with conservative measures and ends with surgical treatment once conservative management has failed. The goal of conservative treatment is to reduce pain and optimise function for as long as possible. Conservative treatment includes patient education, exercise therapy, activity modification, weight loss, knee bracing and medications e.g., nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, glucosamine and chondroitin, corticosteroid injections and hyaluronic acid.
If conservative management failed, surgical interventions can be recommended including therapeutic Injections, arthroscopy, high tibial osteotomy, unicompartmental knee arthroplasty and total knee replacements.