Ever felt a nagging pain in your joints when you wake up? If yes, then you might be suffering from osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease that causes wear and tear of the cartilage muscle. To know more about this tricky disease, we asked some of the finest orthopedic specialists to share their expert opinion.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down over time. It is characterized by loss of cartilage often coupled with low-grade inflammation and changes to the bone closest to the joint. This results in pain, stiffness, and trouble easily moving the joint. Due to the pain and loss of functional capacity, osteoarthritis can cause physical disability and reduce the quality of life and further increase the risk of morbidity.
OA can be caused by a range of factors that include excess weight, joint injury, and aging. Any joint can be affected by OA, but it occurs most frequently in the hands, knees, hips, and spine. Being a chronic condition, OA gradually worsens over time, especially if the contributing factors are not properly modified (particularly increased body weight and misalignment of the joint).
According to the United Nations, by 2050 people aged over 60 will account for more than 20% of the world’s population. Of that 20%, a conservative estimate of 15% will have symptomatic OA, and one-third of these people will be severely disabled. This means that by 2050, 130 million people will suffer from OA worldwide, of whom the disease will severely disable 40 million. Costs associated with OA include costs for adaptive aids and devices, medicines, surgery, and time off at work.
There are no known therapies that can slow the progression of OA. However, treatments involving a combination of non-drug therapies, drug therapy, and surgery can help relieve symptoms, improve your ability to move, and allow patients to stay active.