What is osteoarthritis?

  • Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis experienced by people in Australia, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimating that it is currently suffered by around 1.8 million Australians – around 8% of the population.
  • Usually occurring after middle age, and more common among women than men, osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease characterised by pain and inflammation in the joints. It typically only strikes one joint – usually a joint that bears a lot of stress. This means symptoms of hip pain, knee pain, back pain, and hand pain show particular prevalence.
  • Literally translated as ‘inflammation of the joints’, osteoarthritis is part of the family of 100 various diseases known as arthritis, and commonly causes disability. For osteoarthritis, this can occur due to the breakdown of joint cartilage, which results not just in pain and stiffness, but can also lead to a loss of use of the joint.
  • There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but there are effective treatment options available.

The Symptoms

  • Pain (during use of the joint and/or after the joint has been used)
  • Joint discomfort during significant changes in the weather
  • Swelling in a joint
  • Stiffness of the joint
  • Bony lumps in the hand and finger joints
  • A decreased amount of joint flexibility.
  • Qualifying for disability for osteoarthritis may involve factors such as osteoarthritis of the spine, an obvious deformity in a joint, or a loss of motion in a joint which impairs your ability to perform daily tasks.
  • Risk factors for the disease include:
  • Gender – Osteoarthritis strikes more females than male
  • Age – Osteoarthritis is typically found in people over 45 years of age
  • Obesity
  • Joint stress and injury – Especially sports-related injuries
  • Diseases that cause malformations or disfigurement of the bone structure
  • Weakened quadriceps
  • Other forms of arthritis.
  • Heredity

The Causes

  • The cartilage between joints is supposed to be smooth to allow joints to slide over it easily. Over time, wear and tear causes some people to lose this smoothness of the cartilage, leading to the development of a rough, sandpaper-like appearance to the joints. This means that the joints can no longer slide gently over the cartilage, leading to symptoms of hip pain, back pain, etc. This is osteoarthritis.
  • The cause is time, age, and the eventual wearing down of the joint’s cartilage, but it is not necessarily easy to indicate who will suffer from osteoarthritis and who won’t. There is no absolute rule.
  • Bony growth in osteoarthritis patients is the result of the body’s attempt to repair the joint. But instead of being able to repair the joint, the addition of these growths actually makes repair more difficult.

The Treatment

  • While there is no known cure for osteoarthritis, there are several ways you can manage the symptoms in order to relieve pain and improve your quality of life, including physical activity, weight management, stretching, and the use of certain medications and natural therapies.
  • There is also the option of stem cell treatment for osteoarthritis. This is designed to relieve pain and stiffness and to increase strength through the beneficial properties of stem cells, which have the potential to:
  • Target and fight inflammation;
  • Aid in the lubrication of your joints by boosting production of synovial fluid; and
  • Repair and renew damaged cartilage and connective tissue.
  • For more information on any of the above, including symptoms of hip pain, disability for osteoarthritis, and available treatment options, please get in touch.

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