Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis, and is also known as degenerative joint disease, or “wear and tear arthritis.” OA is a chronic condition characterized by the breakdown, and eventual loss, of the joint’s cartilage. You can recognize cartilage easily. For example, when you break open a chicken joint, it the is white, shiny covering on the end of the bone. By serving as a cushion and shock absorber between the bones of a joint, cartilage plays a vital role in the human musculoskeletal system. Some joints have a additional type of cartilage called a meniscus (in the knee) or a labrum (in the hip and shoulder). When the cartilage wears down, the bones begin rubbing against each other, causing friction, inflammation, pain, and a reduction in joint function and range of motion.
Osteoarthritis most often occurs in weight-bearing joints, such as the hip, knee, and spine; however, it can also affect a number of other joints, including the hands, toes, and neck, especially due to an injury or overuse.
Causes of Osteoarthritis
The causes of osteoarthritis are not clear in most cases. However, the most common causes include, but are not limited to: age, injury or overuse, obesity, and genetic predisposition.
- Age – Osteoarthritis is often caused by age, as natural degeneration plays a large part in the development of this disease. Older patients are more at risk for developing osteoarthritis compared to younger patients.
- Inury or Overuse – Athletes, including children and adults, performing repetitive motions or playing high impact sports commonly sustain joint injuries to the ligaments, meniscus and cartilage that can lead to osteoarthritis.
- Obesity – Increased body weight carried by the hip and knees contributes to the cartilage to wearing out faster than normal.
- Genetic Predisposition – Hereditary abnormalities can affect the bones of the joints, and can later lead to osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis develop slowly over time. These symptoms vary significantly between patients. While some patients experience symptoms sporadically, others will experience them more frequently. Nevertheless, the most common symptom reported throughout patients is joint pain. As patients get older, everyday wear-and-tear takes a toll on joints, and the covering of the bone that prevents friction from deteriorating the bones wears away, causing pain, inflammation, and discomfort during routine activities, such as walking, standing, running, getting up from a chair, climbing the stairs, and even sleeping. Usually, the patient will feel pain during or after movement.
Dr. Harwin recommends scheduling a consultation if the patient experiences swelling or stiffness in the specific joint for more than two weeks.
Common symptoms of OA include:
- Loss of motion or limited mobility
- Grating Sensation
- Cracking or popping noises associated with joint movement
Orthopaedic Excellence in New York City
Dr. Harwin understands the debilitating effects of Osteoarthritis, and has over 30 years of clinical and research experience in determining the best option for treating OA in his patients. With the safest and most comfortable treatment options available, Dr. Harwin strives to alleviate the debilitating symptoms of osteoarthritis to promote quality of life. To learn more about treatments for osteoarthritis, please make an appointment with Dr. Harwin by calling his office at (212) 861-9800. Our New York City office is located at 910 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10075.