Osteoarthritis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Osteoarthritis is a common type of arthritis that affects millions of people around the world. It can be caused by injury or trauma to a joint or by repetition of certain movements over time. This condition can occur in any joint, but it is most common in the fingers, hips, and spine.

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common chronic joint disorders. It is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage and bone, leading to pain and stiffness in the joints. It can also be caused by an underlying condition such as gout or psoriasis.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition that affects the joints and causes pain, stiffness, and loss of joint mobility. This can lead to difficulty with daily activities such as walking or climbing stairs. It can also cause problems with day-to-day tasks such as opening jars or turning door handles.

The cartilage in these joints gradually wears away, causing pain and stiffness. As the disease progresses, it becomes more difficult to move without pain, and other symptoms may develop.

There are two types of osteoarthritis: primary and secondary.

  1. Primary osteoarthritis occurs when there is no underlying cause for the condition.
  2. Secondary osteoarthritis occurs when there are other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus that cause inflammation of the joints.

Signs and Symptoms

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that causes the cartilage and bone to wear away. It can affect any joint in the body, but most often it affects the hips, knees, hands, spine and neck.

There are some signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis. They include:

  • Joint pain and stiffness that worsens with activity
  • Joints that crack or make a popping sound when moved
  • Inability to fully extend fingers or toes at the end of the range of motion
  • Limited range of motion in your joints
  • Joint swelling
  • Loss of cartilage in the joint
  • Changes in the shape or contour of your joints
  • Presence of fluid around your joints
  • Decreased range of motion in the affected joints
  • Joint noise or grinding
  • Tingling in fingers or toes (peripheral neuropathy) due to nerve damage from inflammation around joints (known as peripheral neuropathy)
  • Morning stiffness lasting more than one hour after waking up from sleep

When to see a doctor?

The first step is to identify the symptoms, which include pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of function in one or more joints. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, it is time to visit your doctor for diagnosis.

Causes and Risk Factors

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that can affect the joints of the fingers, toes, hands, feet, hips and spine. It is caused by aging and wear-and-tear on the joints. The cartilage that protects these joints breaks down over time which leads to pain in those joints.

The causes and risk factors for osteoarthritis are:

  • Age: People over 50 are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than people under 50.
  • Gender: Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than men.
  • Genetics: Some people are born with a genetic predisposition to developing osteoarthritis.
  • Excessive weight or obesity: Carrying too much weight puts pressure on your joints which can lead to osteoarthritis. This is especially true for people who are overweight when they are young.
  • Joint injury or surgery: Joints are very delicate so injuries such as falls or sports injuries can cause damage to them over time leading to osteoarthritis or If you’ve had a joint surgery, your risk of developing osteoarthritis increases.
  • Smoking: Smoking can damage your cartilage leading to osteoarthritis.
  • Exercise: The wear and tear of exercise is also one of the main causes.
  • Joint structure: A person with a joint that’s unstable, or has loose movements may be more likely to develop osteoarthritis.


Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition that can cause pain and stiffness in the joints. Complications of osteoarthritis include:

  • Infection of the joint
  • Degeneration
  • Tissue damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Loss of cartilage
  • Pain that worsens with
    • prolonged standing, bending, and weight bearing activities
  • Ankle and Leg swelling
  • knee pain
  • Joint tenderness
  • Decreased range of motion


The diagnosis of osteoarthritis can be made by a physician through a physical examination and by taking the patient’s medical history. The diagnosis is done through physical examination, imaging tests, blood tests and X-rays.


Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease characterized by pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility of the affected joints. There is no cure for osteoarthritis. However, there are treatments that can reduce pain and improve function.

The treatment for osteoarthritis is mainly carried out by non-surgical methods and in some cases, surgery may be required in order to repair or replace damaged joints.

Non-surgical treatment options include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Weight loss programs
  • Medications
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Exercise programs
  • Shoe inserts or orthotics (shoe lifts), and use of assistive devices such as cane or walker to help with weight bearing.

Surgery: Surgery is an option for people who have severe osteoarthritis, but it is not the only one. Doctors can prescribe medications to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. There are also surgical procedures that can be done to improve mobility or slow down the progression of Osteoarthritis such as joint replacement surgery or arthroscopic surgery.

The most common treatment for osteoarthritis is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs work by reducing inflammation and pain in the joint. They can be taken orally or applied to the skin as a cream or gel. NSAIDs can also be injected into the joint to provide short-term relief from pain and inflammation.


Osteoarthritis is a joint disease that causes pain and stiffness in the joints. It is a result of the cartilage wearing away, which can be due to osteoporosis, obesity or injury.

The following are some prevention tips for Osteoarthritis:

  • Exercise regularly to keep weight at a healthy level
  • Maintain an active lifestyle to protect your joints from wear and tear
  • Eat healthy foods and drink plenty of fluids to reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Protect your hands from injury by using gloves when doing household chores such as gardening or housework
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese
  • Speak to your doctor about the risks of weight gain and osteoarthritis


Osteoarthritis is a condition that results from wear-and-tear of the cartilage in joints. There are many different factors that can contribute to the development of Osteoarthritis and some people may be more at risk than others.

Don’t ignore symptoms of chronic joint pain and stiffness. The sooner you speak with a doctor, the sooner you can receive a diagnosis, begin treatment, and improve your quality of life.