In essence, osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease caused by progressive cartilage loss in the joints.
Considered one of the most common forms of arthritis, OA affects an estimated 27 million people in the United States alone.
However, unlike other forms of arthritis (systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), osteoarthritis does not affect any of the body’s organs.
Some of the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis can include pain, swelling, stiffness, and creaking of the affected joints.
In severe cases (where there is complete cartilage loss that results to bone friction), pain will manifest even while at rest.
While unknown to many, there are different types of osteoarthritis. Below are some of the most common:
Foot and Ankle Osteoarthritis
As one ages, the chance of developing osteoarthritis increases significantly. Joint inflammation and injury can cause the cartilage tissues to break down. This can result to deformity, swelling, and severe pain.
While each foot has more than 30 joints and 28 bones, most common foot joints affected by OA include:
- The joint of the foot bone and the big toe
- The joint where the shinbone and the ankle meet
- The three joints found in the foot (outer mid-foot bone, inner mid-foot bone, and the heel bone)
Some of the common indicators of foot and ankle osteoarthritis include:
- Pain and tenderness
- Reduced ability to bear weight, move, or walk
- Swelling and stiffness in the joint
Also known as degenerative arthritis of the hip, individuals affected often experience difficulty walking.
However, the condition can be challenging to diagnose as it can manifest in different locations—thigh, buttocks, groin, and knees.
Severity of the pain can also range from a dull ache to a sharp or stabbing pain.
While no known causes for hip osteoarthritis has been identified, factors like age, obesity, and joint injury are believed to contribute to the development of the condition.
Telltale signs of hip osteoarthritis can include:
- Joint stiffness (especially noticeable when getting out of bed)
- Joint stiffness (after sitting for a long period)
- Tenderness, pain, and swelling in the hip joint
- A “crunching” sound or feeling (this can be attributed to the rubbing of the bones)
- Inability to move the hip when performing day-to-day routines like putting on socks
Two joints make up the shoulder—the glenohumeral and the acromioclavicular (AC) joints.
The latter is the point where the clavicle (collar bone) and the acromion (tip of the shoulder blade) meet. The former on the other hand is the point where the humerus (top of the arm bone) and the scapula (shoulder blade) meet.
In most cases, shoulder osteoarthritis occurs in the AC joint. The condition is also common among individuals over 50 years old. In younger individuals, the condition can be secondary to trauma or injury (i.e. dislocated or fractured shoulder).
Prevalent symptoms of shoulder osteoarthritis can include:
- Pain (especially before and after moving the shoulder)
- Limited motion range (can be evident when moving the arm)
- “Creaking” or “clicking” noise when moving the shoulder
Degenerative arthritis of the hand can occur more frequently in specific spots:
- In the joint situated at the thumb’s base (where the thumb meets the wrist. Bumps or bony knobs may also manifest).
- In the join found at the end of the finger (the one nearest the nail. Bumps known as Heberden’s nodes may also appear).
- In the joint found in the finger’s middle. (bumps that will manifest are called Bouchard’s nodes).
When the condition affects the thumb’s base, a deep and aching pain is often experienced. Pinching and gripping things or any activity (i.e. turning keys, opening lids) may also become significantly challenging.