Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disease in the UK affecting approximately 10 million people. It results from the breakdown of articular hyaline cartilage within the joint and eventual destruction of the underlying bone. It most commonly affects the hands, knees, hips and spine but can affect any synovial joint within the body. The most common symptoms are of joint pain and stiffness, often associated with swelling and deformity. These symptoms normally progress slowly over time, worsening as the arthritis develops
Causes include previous trauma to the joint, wear and tear and inherited factors. Osteoarthritis is believed to be caused by a mechanical stress on the joint and a low grade inflammatory process and is therefore more common in people who are overweight or have jobs and hobbies that results in high levels of joint loading.
Diagnosis is through a careful clinical history, physical examination eliciting pain and stiffness and characteristic deformities and appropriate investigations. X-rays will normally show the loss of the smooth articular cartilage, narrowing of the spaces between the bones within the joints and subsequent bone destruction and formation of osteophytes. MRI scans can show earlier loss of articular cartilage and bruising and swelling within the subchondral bone regions.
Treatment includes lifestyle modification including weight loss and low impact activity. This has been shown to reduce the load going through the joint and improve the supportive muscle structure. This helps with the pain and stiffness caused by arthritis. Pain reliving medication including oral paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories give symptomatic relief, as can direct joint injections. Joint injections include steroids, hyaluronic acid and platelet rich plasma. Eventually if the symptoms become severe enough and affect day-to-day quality of life to a sufficient level, surgery may be considered. The surgery is very dependent on the pattern, severity and location of the arthritis.
Please contact the office on 01483 938750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment with one of our specialists if you wish to discuss potential managment of your osteoarthritis in more detail.
ACP for osteoarthritis brochure