Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent rheumatic disorder typically seen in middle-aged to elderly people. The disease occurs when the joint cartilage breaks down because of a mixture mechanical stress and biochemical alterations leading the bone underneath to fail.
Cartilage is a “cell mat” that protects and lubricates the bone inside the joint to articulates with other complementary bone. Over the years, the load support and the frictional forces progressively damage this cell mat, at first, in a patchy way but, later, extend to the entire articular surface, “undressing” and directly exposing the bone underneath.
OA tends to affect weight-bearing joints, such as hips and knees, or commonly used joints such as the hands and spine. Symptoms include: joint pain and stiffness, knobby swelling, cracking or grinding noise with movement and decreased function of the joint.
OA is diagnosed based on clinical findings as well as on X-ray or other imaging studies and there are not analytical test that may help. Unfortunately, there is still no cure for OA. The goals of treatment of OA are to reduce pain, improve function and slow the progression of joint damage. Most often, this is possible with a mixture of physical measures, drug therapy and intra-articular treatments. When these measures fail, the only option is surgery.