Osteoarthritis - Office Visit

This is a condition that most commonly affects the joints of older people. Joints are the areas of the body where moving bones meet.

This is a condition that most commonly affects the joints of older people.  Joints are the areas of the body where moving bones meet.

Osteoarthritis is a condition that most commonly affects the joints of older people. Joints are the areas of the body where moving bones meet. Although the exact cause of osteoarthritis is not known, risk for developing the condition is increased by:

  • age (risk increases with age)
  • sex (females have an increased risk)
  • being overweight
  • having a joint injury or a birth defect of the joints

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is a form of arthritis that affects the entire joint. It especially affects the tough rubbery tissue that protects and cushions the bones (cartilage).

  • Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It is one of the leading causes of disability in older adults.

Osteoarthritis most often develops in the hands, hips, knees, neck, and lower back. The symptoms usually develop slowly, typically starting during middle age or later. Symptoms may include:

  • pain in the affected joint(s)
  • a ""grating"" sensation or a ""popping"" sound with joint motion
  • joint stiffness after activity or inactivity (such as in the morning or after sitting for a long time)
  • joint swelling, warmth, or tenderness that can come and go
  • limited range of motion of affected joint(s)

Occasionally, the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis may vary with cycles of flare-ups and remissions (when symptoms are less noticeable). Osteoarthritis symptoms can vary from day to day due to many factors, including activity levels and environmental factors (e.g., weather conditions). Sudden flare-ups are much more typical of other arthritic conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis).

Diagnosing osteoarthritis can lead to interventions that can help delay and limit joint damage and other complications associated with the disorder. Contact your healthcare provider if you have any of the above symptoms. He or she will take a medical history, perform a physical exam, and possibly order imaging studies (x-ray or MRI) to check the condition of your joints. Your healthcare provider may also recommend lab work to rule out other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Since osteoarthritis is a chronic disease, treatment is usually needed for extended periods of time, perhaps for your entire life. Treatment plans usually include exercise (physical therapy may be recommended), maintaining a healthy weight, protection and rest of the affect joint(s), heat or cold, medications as recommended by your healthcare provider, injections into the affected joint, and education in self-care measures.
  • Surgery may be recommended if you have severe joint damage, moderate to severe pain, and/or very limited joint movement and disability that is not improved with self-care measures and medications.

If you believe you have osteoarthritis, you should see your healthcare provider.

  • Before your appointment, make a list of your medical history, including past illnesses, surgeries and hospitalizations; your medications (including over-the-counter); and any questions or concerns you want to discuss.
  • During your appointment, ask about your overall health, what symptoms you might have, when you may start to see improvement; what the follow-up plans are, if any; and what symptoms you should report before your next appointment.
  • After your appointment, you should know your diagnosis, what tests you might need, the reason for those tests, and if the test results will change your treatment plan. You should also understand your treatment plan, any possible alternatives, and what medications are recommended (including possible side effects).

Source UHC.com

Also known as:

Rheumatoid Arthritis
Osteoarthritis - Office Visit
Joint Problems
Joint Pain

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