Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It is often referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis or degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis patients are mostly affected in the hands, hips and knees, experiencing pain, aching, stiffness, decreased range of motion and swelling.
The main symptoms of osteoarthritis are joint pain and stiffness, and problems moving the joint. Some people also have symptoms such as: – swelling – tenderness – grating or crackling sound when moving the affected joints
The severity of osteoarthritis symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, and between different affected joints.
For some people, the symptoms can be mild and may come and go. Other people can experience more continuous and severe problems which make it difficult to carry out everyday activities.
Almost any joint can be affected by osteoarthritis, but the condition most often causes problems in the knees, hips and small joints of the hands as spoken about above.
Genetics can play a part in determining whether a person will develop osteoarthritis, but other factors are also at work. It is the process of the breaking down of cartilage in the joints and the inflammatory response to that.
The symptoms may come and go in episodes, which can be related to your activity levels and even the weather. In more severe cases, the symptoms can be continuous. Mine seem to come and go and I am definitely very stiff and in pain first thing in a morning. A morning hot shower and some medication soon gets me moving better.
My main pain is in my sacroiliac joint and given the vital role that the large SI joint plays in transferring upper body weight to the lower extremities, it is commonly affected in osteoarthritis. In particular to people who have had lumber spinal fusion which puts more pressure on the SI joint. People who have osteoarthritis in their SI joints often develop osteophytes or bone spurs around the joint, leading to pain and dysfunction. I have just had this confirmed after my recent MRI.
Other symptoms you or your doctor may notice include:
- joint tenderness
- increased pain and stiffness when you have not moved your joints for a while
- joints appearing slightly larger or more “knobbly” than usual
- a grating or crackling sound or sensation in your joints
- limited range of movement in your joints
- weakness and muscle wasting (loss of muscle bulk)
They say you should make sure you are not overweight ( I’m not) and to try and exercise daily. Regular exercise can build muscle strength, ease joint pain and stiffness and lower your disability risk. Stretching, walking and water aerobics are good activities for people with osteoarthritis. I can only manage walking but I try and walk at least 20 minutes each day which is around 3,000 steps.
There’s no cure for osteoarthritis, but the condition does not necessarily get any worse over time. In a few cases, where other treatments have not been helpful, surgery to repair, strengthen or replace damaged joints may also be considered.
Surgery for this problem would mean fusion surgery, a bone graft and/or instruments are used to encourage bone growth over the sacroiliac joint and create one immobile unit. Joint fusion can effectively reduce pain and instability caused by sacroiliac joint dysfunction or inflammation (sacroiliitis). This is a last resort if my steroid injection doesn’t last for long but not one I am thinking of embarking on in the near future.