Osteoarthritis symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time. Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include Pain during movement, tenderness when applying light pressure to the joint, joint Stiffness in the morning, decreased ROM of joint and grating sensation when using the joint. In addition, bone spurs could develop around affected joint, which are extra bits of bone and feel like hard lumps.

Causes and risk factors

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones in your joints gradually deteriorates and eventually may be left with bone rubbing on bone. Factors that may increase your risk of osteoarthritis include older age, Sex (women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis) and obesity by adding more stress on weight-bearing joints and inflammation in and around the joint by proteins are produced by fat tissue. Other risk factors included prior joint injuries, certain occupations that place repetitive stress on a particular joint.


He diagnosis of Osteoarthritis is based on symptoms and physical exam checking for tenderness, swelling or redness, and for range of motion in the joint. Imaging of the affected joint and labs can be obtained too. Examples of imaging include:

X-rays of joint which could reveal narrowing of the space between the bones in the affected joint; It may also show bone spurs around a joint. Please notice that some people may have X-ray evidence of osteoarthritis before they experience any symptoms.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which may help provide more information regarding the joint disease in complex cases.

Lab tests

Analyzing the blood or joint fluid can help confirm the diagnosis and rule out other possibilities.

- Blood tests; There is no blood test for osteoarthritis, however certain tests may help rule out other causes of joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

- Joint fluid analysis can determine if there's inflammation and if your pain is caused by gout or an infection.


The process underlying osteoarthritis cannot be reversed, but symptoms can usually be effectively managed with lifestyle changes, physical therapies, medications, and surgery. Exercising and achieving a healthy weight are generally the most important ways to treat osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis pain, may be managed by certain medications such as Acetaminophen, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and Duloxetine.

Topical pain medications are absorbed through the skin and have shown to be effective in management of pain in OA. It is usually in form of creams or gels that could be rubbed onto the skin over the painful joints. Since the ingredients are absorbed through the skin, most topical pain medications are best used on joints that are close to the skin's surface, such as the joints in hands and knees. Active ingredients in over-the counter topical pain medications can include Capsaicin and Salicylates.

Physical therapy: A physical therapist can create an individualized exercise program that will strengthen the muscles around the joint, increase range of motion of joint and reduce pain. Regular gentle exercise such as swimming or walking, can be equally effective.

Occupational therapy: An occupational therapist can help to discover ways to do everyday tasks without putting extra stress on an already painful joint. For instance, a toothbrush with a large grip could make brushing your teeth easier if you have finger osteoarthritis or a bench in your shower could help relieve the pain of standing if you have knee osteoarthritis.

Tai chi and yoga. These movement therapies involve gentle exercises and stretches combined with deep breathing. Many people use these therapies to reduce stress in their lives, and research suggests that tai chi and yoga may reduce osteoarthritis pain and improve movement. If conservative treatments don't help, other procedures may help such as:

Cortisone injections which may relieve pain in the affected joint. The number of cortisone injections a patient can receive each year is generally limited to three or four injections, because the medication can worsen joint damage over time.

Hyaluronic acidinjections also may offer pain relief by providing some cushioning in your knee. It is similar to a component normally found in joint fluid.

Joint replacement: If osteoarthritis has damaged one side of your knee more than the other, an osteotomy might be helpful and Joint replacement could be reserved as last option. In joint replacement surgery (arthroplasty), damaged joint surfaces is removed and replaced with plastic and metal parts.

Alternative medicine

There are complementary and alternative medicine may help with osteoarthritis symptoms, which include: Acupuncture: some studies indicate that acupuncture can relieve pain and improve function in people who have knee osteoarthritis.
Glucosamine and chondroitin: some studies found benefits for some people with osteoarthritis. It should not be taken if you're allergic to shellfish. It also may interact with blood thinners such as warfarin and cause bleeding problems.
Avocado-soybean oil mixture: is widely used in Europe to treat knee and hip osteoarthritis. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and may slow down or even prevent joint damage. 

Greater Washington
Arthritis, Rheumatology and Osteoporosis Center


Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down over time.

Osteoarthritis can damage any joint in your body, however the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine; Osteoarthritis symptoms can usually be managed, however the underlying process cannot be reversed. Staying active, maintaining a healthy weight and other treatments may slow progression of the disease and help improve pain and joint function. 



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