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Osteoarthritis (OA) also known as degenerative arthritisdegenerative joint disease, or osteoarthrosis, is a type of joint disease that results from breakdown of joint cartilage and underlying bone. The most common symptoms are joint pain and stiffness. Initially, symptoms may occur only following exercise, but over time may become constant. Other symptoms may include joint swelling, decreased range of motion, and when the back is affected weakness or numbness of the arms and legs. The most commonly involved joints are those near the ends of the fingers, at the base of the thumb, neck, lower back, knees, and hips. Joints on one side of the body are often more affected than those on the other. Usually the problems come on over years. It can affect work and normal daily activities. Unlike other types of arthritis, only the joints are typically affected.

The formation of hard nobs at the middle finger joints (known as Bouchard's nodes) and at the farther away finger joint (known as Heberden's node) are a common feature of OA in the hands.

The formation of hard nobs at the middle finger joints (known as Bouchard’s nodes) and at the farther away finger joint (known as Heberden’s node) are a common feature of OA in the hands.

Causes include previous joint injury, abnormal joint or limb development, and inherited factors. Risk is greater in those who are overweight, have one leg of a different length, and have jobs that result in high levels of joint stress. Osteoarthritis is believed to be caused by mechanical stress on the joint and low grade inflammatory processes. It develops as cartilage is lost with eventually the underlying bone becoming affected. As Pain may make it difficult to exercise, muscle loss may occur. Diagnosis is typically based on signs and symptom with medical imaging and other tests occasionally used to either support or rule out other problems. Unlike in rheumatoid arthritis, which is primarily an inflammatory condition, the joints do not typically become hot or red.

Treatment includes exercise, efforts to decrease joint stress, support groups, and pain medications. Efforts to decrease joint stress include resting, the use of a cane, and braces. Weight loss may help in those who are overweight. Pain medications may includeparacetamol (acetaminophen). If this does not work NSAIDs such as naproxen may be used but these medications are associated with greater side effects. Opioids if used are generally only recommended short term due to the risk of addiction. If pain interferes with normal life despite other treatments, joint replacement surgery may help. An artificial joint, however, only lasts a limited amount of time. Outcomes for most people with osteoarthritis are good.

OA is the most common form of arthritis with disease of the knee and hip affecting about 3.8% of people as of 2010. Among those over 60 years old about 10% of males and 18% of females are affected. It is the cause of about 2% of years lived with disability. In Australia about 1.9 million people are affected, and in the United States about 27 million people are affected. Before 45 years of age it is more common in men, while after 45 years of age it is more common in women. It becomes more common in both sexes as people become older.

Signs and symptoms

The main symptom is pain, causing loss of ability and often stiffness. "Pain" is generally described as a sharp ache or a burning sensation in the associated muscles and tendons. OA can cause a crackling noise (called "crepitus") when the affected joint is moved or touched and people may experience muscle spasms and contractions in the tendons. Occasionally, the joints may also be filled with fluid. Some people report increased pain associated with cold temperature, high humidity, and/or a drop in barometric pressure, but studies have had mixed results.

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 better with gentle use but worse with excessive or prolonged use, thus distinguishing it from rheumatoid arthritis.

In smaller joints, such as at the fingers, hard bony enlargements, called Heberden’s nodes (on the distal interphalangeal joints) and/or Bouchard’s nodes (on the proximal interphalangeal joints), may form, and though they are not necessarily painful, they do limit the movement of the fingers significantly. OA at the toes leads to the formation of bunions, rendering them red or swollen. Some people notice these physical changes before they experience any pain.

OA is the most common cause of a joint effusion of the knee.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is made with reasonable certainty based on history and clinical examination. X-rays may confirm the diagnosis. The typical changes seen on X-ray include: joint space narrowing, subchondral sclerosis (increased bone formation around the joint), subchondral cyst formation, and osteophytes. Plain films may not correlate with the findings on physical examination or with the degree of pain. Usually other imaging techniques are not necessary to clinically diagnose OA.

In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology, using data from a multi-center study, developed a set of criteria for the diagnosis of hand OA based on hard tissue enlargement and swelling of certain joints. These criteria were found to be 92% sensitive and 98% specific for hand OA versus other entities such as rheumatoid arthritis and spondyloarthropathies.

Related pathologies whose names may be confused with OA include pseudo-arthrosis. This is derived from the Greek words pseudo, meaning "false", and arthrosis, meaning "joint." Radiographic diagnosis results in diagnosis of a fracture within a joint, which is not to be confused with OA which is a degenerative pathology affecting a high incidence of distal phalangeal joints of female patients. A polished ivory-like appearance may also develop on the bones of the affected joints, reflecting a change called eburnation.

Medication

The analgesic acetaminophen is the first line treatment for OA.However, a 2015 review found acetaminophen to only have a small short term benefit. For mild to moderate symptoms effectiveness is similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), though for more severe symptoms NSAIDs may be more effective. NSAIDs such as naproxen while more effective in severe cases are associated with greater side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding. Another class of NSAIDs, COX-2 selective inhibitors(such as celecoxib) are equally effective to NSAIDs with lower rates of adverse gastrointestinal effects but higher rates of cardiovascular disease such as myocardial infarction. They are also more expensive than non-specific NSAIDs. Oral opioids, including both weak opioids such as tramadol and stronger opioids, are also often prescribed. Their appropriateness is uncertain and opioids are often recommended only when first line therapies have failed or are contraindicated. This is due to a small benefit and relatively large risk of side effects. Oral steroids are not recommended in the treatment of OA.

There are several NSAIDs available for topical use including diclofenac. Topical and oral diclofenac work equally well with topical having a greater risk of mild skin reactions but no greater risk of gastrointestinal adverse effects. Transdermal opioid pain medications are not typically recommended in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Topical capsaicin is controversial with some reviews finding benefit and others not.

Joint injections of glucocorticoids (such as hydrocortisone) leads to short term pain relief that may last between a few weeks and a few months. Injections of hyaluronic acid have not been found to lead to much improvement compared to placebo but have been associated with harm. The effectiveness of injections of platelet-rich plasma is unclear; there are suggestions that such injections improve function but not pain and are associated with increased risk.

Alternative medicine

Many dietary supplements are sold as treatments for OA. Since glucosamine is a precursor for a component of cartilage, it has been studied for prevention and treatment. The effectiveness of glucosamine is controversial. Most recent reviews found it to be equal to or only slight better than placebo. A difference may exist between glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride, with glucosamine sulfate showing a benefit and glucosamine hydrochloride not. The evidence for glucosamine sulfate having an effect on OA progression is somewhat unclear and if present likely modest. The Osteoarthritis Research Society International recommends that glucosamine be discontinued if no effect is observed after six months and the National Institute of Clinical Excellence no longer recommends its use. Despite the difficulty in determining the efficacy of glucosamine, it remains a viable treatment option. Its use as a therapy for osteoarthritis is usually safe.

PhytodolorSAMe, and SKI 306X (a Chinese herbal mixture) may be effective in improving pain, and there is some evidence to support the use of cat’s claw as an anti-inflammatory. There is tentative evidence to support avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (ASU), methylsulfonylmethane, and rose hip. A few high-quality studies of Boswellia serrata show consistent, but small, improvements in pain and function among people with osteoarthritis.

There is little evidence supporting benefits for some supplements, including: the Ayurvedic herbal preparations with brand names Articulin F and Eazmov, collagen, devil’s claw, Duhuo Jisheng Wan (a Chinese herbal preparation), fish liver oil, ginger, the herbal preparation gitadyl, glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, the brand-name product Reumalax, stinging nettle, turmeric, vitamins A, C, and E in combination, vitamin E alone, vitamin K and willow bark. There is insufficient evidence to make a recommendation about the safety and efficacy of these treatments.

While acupuncture leads to improvements in pain relief, this improvement is small and may be of questionable importance. Waiting list-controlled trials for peripheral joint osteoarthritis do show clinically relevant benefits, but these may be due to placebo effects. Acupuncture does not seem to produce long-term benefits. While electrostimulation techniques such as TENS have been used for twenty years to treat osteoarthritis in the knee, there is no conclusive evidence to show that it reduces pain or disability.

History

Evidence for OA found in the fossil record is studied by paleopathologists, specialists in ancient disease and injury. OA has been reported in fossils of the large carnivorous dinosaur Allosaurus fragilis.




One response to “Disease Osteoarthritis”

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