Generalized osteoarthritis symptoms



by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit




Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis.

It is a degenerative form of arthritis... meaning it develops as a result of “wear-and-tear”. Joints in the body are composed of the ends of bones, which are covered with a smooth layer of cartilage. Over time, the cartilage wears away.

The wearing away can become severe enough that range-of-motion is affected. Weight-bearing joints are most affected. These include the neck, low back, hips, knees, base of the thumbs, and the base of the great toe.While the thumb is not a weight-bearing joint, it has the most range-of-motion and is subjected to much stress as part of daily activities.

Another type of osteoarthritis, erosive osteoarthritis of the hands, affects the finger joints. This form of arthritis is hereditary and is especially common is women after the age of fifty.

There are some risk factors that are thought to be involved. Some of these are age, sex, and genetics. Local factors include prior injury to the joint, deformity in the joint, obesity and muscle weakness.

Patients usually experience pain when they use the joint and the symptoms go away with rest. Patients may have some stiffness, when they first use a joint. If the arthritis is severe, patients may lose functional capacity in the joint. For example, in severe osteoarthritis of the knee, a patient may experience such severe pain that they stop walking or going up and down stairs. Stiffness with inactivity is common. Patients may also complain of pain at night.

Bony enlargement usually is a sign. Patients with osteoarthritis of the hands can get knobby finger joints. X-rays show a decrease in the cartilage space, new bone formation and abnormal alignment.

The hip is one of the major weight bearing joints of the body. Hip arthritis causes groin pain, buttock pain, and referred pain to the knee. Activities that can become difficult include walking, tying one's shoes, and crossing one's legs.

The knee is the other most common place for the development of osteoarthritis. Patients will often complain of pain with walking and, over time, they will limit their walking distance. The knees can develop a "crunching" sound with movement. Fluid build-up can occur. This is called a "knee effusion."

Hand osteoarthritis is very common, especially in women. Bony overgrowth occurs at the joints of the fingers. These growths, which are called Heberden's and Bouchard's nodes. Pain, swelling and redness occur during the inflammatory phase of the disease. This can last anywhere from 6 months to 5 years. After that, most patients are left with bony swelling in their joints but no pain. Individuals can also get arthritis at the base of the thumb.

The cervical (neck) and lumber (lower back) spine is composed of vertebral bodies that are connected by joints and have cushioning discs between each level. Over time, these joints undergo wear and tear, which causes osteoarthritis and disc degeneration. This can lead to pain in the neck, and the upper and lower back.

Other joints such as the ankle, elbow and shoulder are less susceptible to osteoarthritis.





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