Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. This is followed by chronic inflammation of the joint lining. Healthy cartilage is a cushion between the bones in a joint. Osteoarthritis usually affects the hands, feet, spine, hips, and knees. People with osteoarthritis usually have joint pain and limited movement in the affected joint.
The exact cause is unclear.
Factors that may increase your chance of developing osteoarthritis include:
Excess body weight
Family history of osteoarthritis
Certain endocrine, metabolic, or neuropathic disorders, avascular necrosis
Having an injury or surgery to the joint surface, especially the cartilage
Having an occupation or doing physical activities that put stress on joints
Osteoarthritis may cause:
Mild-to-severe pain in a joint, especially after overuse or long periods of inactivity, such as sitting for a long time
Creaking or grating sound in the joint
Swelling, stiffness, limited movement of the joint, especially in the morning
Deformity of the joint
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include:
X-ray to see internal bony structures
CT scan to look at the extent of the arthritis
Arthrocentesis to rule out other causes of arthritis
Blood tests to rule out other causes of arthritis
Exercise and strengthening the muscles supporting the hip can decrease pain and absorb energy around the joint. Swimming and water aerobics are good options. They do not put damaging stress on the joint.
There are many options for reducing pain, including transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). With TENS, you are connected to a machine that sends electrical signals through the skin to nerves. This type of therapy may decrease pain in some people.
If you have hip osteoarthritis, manual therapy, including massage and mobilization, may be helpful.
To help reduce your chance of developing osteoarthritis, consider these recommendations:
Maintain a healthy weight.
Do regular, gentle exercise, such as walking, stretching, swimming, or yoga.
Avoid repetitive motions and risky activities that may contribute to joint injury, especially after age 40.
With advancing age, certain activities may have to be stopped or modified. It is important to continue to be active, so find an activity that suits you.
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The Arthritis Foundation
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