Osteoarthritis, or as it is sometimes called “Degenerative Joint Disease,” is the most common form of arthritis and a leading cause of disability in North America. It affects one out of every three people over the age of 45, and this ratio increases with age.
Osteoarthritis gradually wears down joint cartilage, resulting in pain, loss of mobility, and in some cases, inflammation of the affected joint(s).
Osteoarthritis tends to affect weight bearing joints such as knees and hips more frequently. As the disease progresses, cartilage erodes to the point that bone begins to rub on bone.
Eventually, the joint loses shape and alignment. Bone ends thicken, forming bony growths called spurs or osteophytes. Bits of cartilage or bone can wear off and float in the joint space, adding to the irritation and further affecting joint mobility.
There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but when you are diagnosed early and start the right treatment, you can take control of your disease and may delay or even avoid severe damage to your joints. Osteoarthritis can be successfully managed in many ways, including combinations of:
- Weight loss
- Wearing a brace
- Natural remedies
- Over-the-counter medicines
- Prescription medicines
- Steroid injections
- Surgery (knee replacement)