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Osteoarthritis: Complaints, Symptoms & Treatments

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis or osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease and is the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage in the joints wears down.

Although osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, the condition most commonly affects the following joints:

  • The hand
  • Hips
  • Knees
  • Has
  • Lower back

Osteoarthritis gradually worsens over time and there is no cure. Fortunately, there are treatments that relieve pain and significantly improve quality of life.


What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis symptoms are common and worsen slowly over time. Signs of disease that often occur with osteoarthritis are:

  • Ache
    The affected joint may be painful during or after movement.
  • Sensitivity
    The joint may be tender to touch or light pressure
  • Stiffness
    Joint stiffness is most noticeable upon waking or after a period of inactivity.
  • Loss of flexibility
    The joint can no longer move as far as before or can no longer move in all directions.
  • Grating feeling
    One may feel or even hear a grating sensation when moving the joint.
  • Bony Lumps
    These extra bits of bone, which feel like hard lumps, can form around the affected joint.


In case of swelling or stiffness in the joints that lasts longer than two weeks, it is best to make an appointment with a doctor.


What are the causes of osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that protects the ends of the bones in the joints wears out. The smooth surface of the cartilage becomes rough, causing irritation. Eventually, when the cartilage is completely worn down, the bony ends of the joint can rub together, causing bone damage and joint pain.

In most cases it is not clear what causes osteoarthritis. Researchers suspect that it is a combination of factors, such as:

  • The aging process
  • Joint injury or stress
  • Heredity
  • Muscle weakness
  • Obesity


Risk factors

Factors that increase the risk of osteoarthritis include:

  • old age
    Osteoarthritis usually occurs in older adults. People under 40 rarely have osteoarthritis.
  • Sex
    Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis, although it's not clear why.
  • Deformities of the leg
    Some people are born with deformed joints or defective cartilage, which increases the risk of osteoarthritis.
  • Joint injuries
    Injuries, such as sports injuries or injuries from an accident, can increase the risk of osteoarthritis.
  • Obesity
    Due to the constant extra pressure on the joints that bear the weight (such as the knees), obese people have a higher risk of osteoarthritis.
  • Certain professions
    Some professions put a repetitive pressure on certain joints.
  • Other diseases
    Gout, rheumatoid arthritis, Paget's disease, or septic arthritis increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis.


What are the treatments for osteoarthritis?

There is still no known cure for osteoarthritis, but with good treatment, the pain can be alleviated and the mobility of the joint can be preserved.


lose weight

It is especially important for people who are overweight and osteoarthritis to lose weight: the less weight, the less pressure is placed on the joints.



There are several pain-relieving drugs that can be used in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Often combinations of the following drugs are also used.

  • Paracetamol
    Paracetamol is usually the first drug used in the treatment of osteoarthritis. It is an analgesic but it does not fight the inflammation. Paracetamol is a relatively safe medicine provided it is not taken in too high a dose.
  • NSAIDs
    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) relieve pain and inhibit inflammation. Long-term use and large doses increase the risk of side effects.
  • opiates
    Opiates are strong painkillers but are only used for severe pain. The risk of addiction is not negligible. These drugs are not anti-inflammatory (anti-inflammatory) and can have serious side effects.
  • Corticosteroids
    Intra-articular injections (into the joint) of corticosteroids into the affected joint can reduce pain and inflammation. Too many injections can lead to joint damage.


Supportive Therapy

  • Physiotherapy or physiotherapy
    The best therapy for maintaining joint mobility is adapted exercises by the physiotherapist or physiotherapist. The exercises ensure muscle building around the joint and less pain. The physiotherapist will prescribe exercises that can be done at home.
  • Avoid stress on the joints
    Resting the joint ensures that further wear is limited. Various aids can help to avoid the stress on joints. A brace can often help with this as well. The doctor or physiotherapist can advise on this.



  • Joint Replacement
    In joint replacement surgery (arthroplasty), the surgeon removes the damaged joint and replaces it with plastic or metal prostheses. The hip and knee joints are the most commonly replaced joints. But nowadays shoulder, elbow, finger or ankle joints can also be replaced. After a period of rehabilitation after an arthroplasty, the joint can be used again painlessly. New artificial joints can last up to 20 years. They often have to be replaced again. Technical breakthroughs ensure that artificial joints last longer and longer.
  • Other surgery
    If arthroplasty is not an option, one can choose to perform other surgical procedures, such as arthrodesis: securing the joint. This surgery prevents any kind of movement in the joint, causing the joint to completely lose its function. This is often done with ankle joints.


Alternative medicine

  • Acupuncture
    Acupuncture involves inserting small needles into the skin. Acupuncture could be analgesic. However, much remains to be researched and proven regarding the effectiveness of this alternative method.
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin
    These substances are used by the body in the construction of the articular cartilage. Many studies have been done that try to show that glucosamine or chondroitin as a dietary supplement would have a positive effect in osteoarthritis. Several studies do indeed point in that direction, but just as many studies show that there is no influence. Its usefulness has certainly not yet been demonstrated.
  • Tai chi and yoga
    These forms of meditation can help combat stress and relax muscles. Also, quiet movements are often made when exercising these movement therapies. This can help an osteoarthritis patient.

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