What is Osteoarthritis?
A healthy joint has cartilage and synovial fluid that protect and cushion the bones.
- Within your joint there is tough elastic material that covers and protects the ends of your bones called cartilage.
- The purpose of the synovial fluid is to lubricate and cushion the space within your joint.
If you are living with osteoarthritis, the cartilage in your joint has worn down and the synovial fluid is no longer able to cushion your joint. When this happens, your bones rub against each other, causing pain, joint stiffness and swelling.
What joints are affected by osteoarthritis?
Joints that can be affected by osteoarthritis are:
- Lower back
How Common is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis affects more than 3 million Canadians.
Do you know what the risk factors are?
- Age (your risk of developing osteoarthritis increases as you age)
- Family history of osteoarthritis
- Excess weight
- Previous joint injury
- Complications from other types of arthritis (osteoarthritis can occur in joints that have been damaged by other types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout)
- Wear and tear on the joints
What are the warning signs of osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis progresses slowly over months or even years. Do you know the warning signs?
- Initially there is pain in the joint, usually triggered by high impact activities such as jogging.
- Later on, the pain can be triggered by everyday activities.
- Generally, resting the joint can help decrease the pain. Sometimes after resting the joint (or when you wake up in the morning) the joint may feel stiff for about 15-20 minutes.
- Pain generally lasts throughout the day and may cause discomfort when sleeping.
- You may notice some swelling of the joint and a loss of flexibility or strength.
How is osteoarthritis diagnosed?
There is no single test used to diagnose osteoarthritis. Some of the tools your doctor may use to diagnose osteoarthritis are:
- Medical history
- Physical exam
- Lab test
If you are diagnosed with osteoarthritis there are many different treatment options available.