Pain, stiffness and swelling? Here’s how to manage symptoms of osteoarthritis

If you’ve been experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis, like swelling, stiffness and joint pain, try these methods to cope up.

symptoms of Osteoarthritis
Here’s how you can manage the painful symptoms of Osteoarthritis. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Ashutosh Jha Published on: 2 April 2022, 21:14 pm IST
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Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis or joint condition that mostly affect joints that bear the most weight. So, terms including ‘wear and tear’, degenerative arthritis, or joint disease are often used interchangeably to describe the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

What are the causes of osteoarthritis?

There are two main causes of osteoarthritis: primary and secondary. Primary being the generalized form, is a heterogeneous disease, with multiple causes. It typically concerns the thumbs, fingers, knees, spine, hips, and big toes. Whereas secondary osteoarthritis is mainly caused by a pre-existing joint abnormality.

The four main causes of secondary osteoarthritis include

  1. Inflammatory arthritis, for example, gout, psoriatic or rheumatoid
  2. Recurring injury or trauma (sports-related).
  3. Genetic joint disorders including Ehlers- Danlos (also labeled as double-jointed and hypermobility/metabolic/congenital joint disorders).
  4. Infectious arthritis.

Additionally, given the cumulative effects of joint damage with time, age is a common risk factor contributing to osteoarthritis. However, not all older adults may develop osteoarthritis or the associated pain with the condition. Additionally, other noted risks for developing the condition may include genetics, diabetes, obesity, increased cholesterol, and decreased estrogen in post-menopausal women.

weight gain
Obesity can also contribute to Osteoarthritis. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What dangers do symptoms of osteoarthritis pose?

Osteoarthritis triggers the protective barrier or tissue of the bones called ‘cartilage’ to break down, leading to bone-on-bone contact, that is. the bones within the joints clash. Consequently, the most observed symptoms include joint stiffness, pain and chronic inflammation, reduced range of motion and flexibility, discomfort and tenderness in impacted joints, crepitus or clicking, grating, crackling noises and comparatively painless extra bone lumps or bone spurs.

As aforementioned, osteoarthritis is characterized as a degenerative joint condition that may progress from stages 0 to 4 – 0 being the typical joint, whilst 4 denoting severe osteoarthritis. In a more advanced case of osteoarthritis, joint swelling or extensive cartilage loss may occur in the joint or even surrounding region due to increased pain and inflammation over time.

unhealthy body
Leg cramps and stiffness is also one of the symptoms of Osteoarthritis. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How to manage the symptoms of osteoarthritis?

The treatment for this joint condition depends on managing symptoms, that is, the treatment type is largely dependent on the patient’s symptom severity and the affected area. In some cases, the contributing factors are modifiable, whilst some remain non-modifiable. Ideally, over-the-counter (OTC) oral and topical medications, lifestyle changes (increased physical activity, weight management, or proper sleep), or home remedies (warm or cold compress) should be sufficient to provide the necessary pain relief from common swelling and joint stiffness.

Overall, although often deemed as chronic, the general assessment of the condition suggests osteoarthritis symptoms are both manageable and curable with timely treatment and care, alongside positive lifestyle changes.

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About the Author
Dr Ashutosh Jha Dr Ashutosh Jha

Consultant – Orthopedics, Manipal Hospital, Ghaziabad

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