What is Joint Osteoarthritis?

Dee Saale
Dee Saale
An illustration of a healthy spine and one with spinal osteoarthritis.
An illustration of a healthy spine and one with spinal osteoarthritis.

Joint osteoarthritis is a disease that affects the cartilage or the tissue that covers the bone ends of a joint. With joint osteoarthritis, the cartilage is worn away, forcing the bones to rub against each other. Typically, people with joint osteoarthritis have reduced motion, swelling, and joint pain, particularly in their knees, hips, hands, and elbows. In addition, if it is not treated, the joint may become misshapen or sections of bone may break off, causing even greater pain and more permanent damage.

An X-ray of the pelvic area, showing a metal replacement hip. A hip replacement may be performed due to serious osteoarthritis in the hip.
An X-ray of the pelvic area, showing a metal replacement hip. A hip replacement may be performed due to serious osteoarthritis in the hip.

One of the most common kinds of arthritis is joint osteoarthritis. It usually affects older individuals, though younger individuals can be affected as well, particularly if they experienced trauma to a particular joint. The exact causes of joint osteoarthritis are unclear.

There are some factors that may lead to the disease, such as obesity, age, and joint trauma. In addition, genetic defects causing the joints to me malformed may also lead to the disease. Some people who perform repetitive motions using certain joints in their jobs or during sports may also experience the joint pain related to osteoarthritis.

Joint osteoarthritis commonly affects the hands of elderly people.
Joint osteoarthritis commonly affects the hands of elderly people.

Typically, the signs of joint osteoarthritis include joint stiffness, particularly when arising from bed or after sitting for several hours. In addition, some people experience joint swelling. It is also common for people to hear their bones rubbing against each other when they suffer from this disease. Doctors look at an individual’s medical history, conduct a physical exam, and possibly analyze x-rays to properly diagnose the condition.

As people grow older, the cartilage that protects their knees and other joints begins to deteriorate.
As people grow older, the cartilage that protects their knees and other joints begins to deteriorate.

It is possible to treat the symptoms of joint osteoarthritis so the person has better joint function and experiences less pain. This is usually done through weight loss, exercise, rest, and pain management. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to repair a damaged joint as well.

Support groups and educational programs are helpful for many people who suffer from osteoarthritis. Support groups let individuals know that they are not alone while allowing them to learn additional ways of managing the disease from others. The classes teach individuals about the disease and ways to treat it as well. Many medical professionals are able to direct affected individuals to appropriately related groups and classes.

Acupuncture can be used to treat joint osteoarthritis.
Acupuncture can be used to treat joint osteoarthritis.

Scientists are beginning to understand that joint osteoarthritis is not only something that happens to older individuals. Consequently, they are researching early detection techniques, the genetics involved in the disease, and prevention techniques. Some researchers are also studying alternative treatments, such as supplements, acupuncture, and hormone therapy.

Dee Saale
Dee Saale

Dee is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a law degree. Dee is especially interested in topics relating to medicine, legal issues, and home improvement, which are her specialty when contributing to .

Dee Saale
Dee Saale

Dee is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a law degree. Dee is especially interested in topics relating to medicine, legal issues, and home improvement, which are her specialty when contributing to .

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    • An illustration of a healthy spine and one with spinal osteoarthritis.
      By: peterjunaidy
      An illustration of a healthy spine and one with spinal osteoarthritis.
    • An X-ray of the pelvic area, showing a metal replacement hip. A hip replacement may be performed due to serious osteoarthritis in the hip.
      By: NICOLAS LARENTO
      An X-ray of the pelvic area, showing a metal replacement hip. A hip replacement may be performed due to serious osteoarthritis in the hip.
    • Joint osteoarthritis commonly affects the hands of elderly people.
      By: perfectmatch
      Joint osteoarthritis commonly affects the hands of elderly people.
    • As people grow older, the cartilage that protects their knees and other joints begins to deteriorate.
      By: maska82
      As people grow older, the cartilage that protects their knees and other joints begins to deteriorate.
    • Acupuncture can be used to treat joint osteoarthritis.
      By: Alfred Wekelo
      Acupuncture can be used to treat joint osteoarthritis.