Magnolia Minute – What is Osteoarthritis?

December 1, 2020 3:32 pm Published by

By: Dr. Beth Lindsey, Rheumatologist at Magnolia Specialty Clinic

Osteoarthritis is a common cause of joint and back pain. In fact, osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the world and one of the leading causes of chronic pain and disability. It goes by many names, including “wear and tear” arthritis, “old age” arthritis, and degenerative arthritis. Although osteoarthritis is more common in patients over the age of 50, it can develop at younger ages. Osteoarthritis is due to the natural “wearing down” of cartilage – the “cushion” in all of our joints – that occurs gradually over time.

This is not an autoimmune or inflammatory process, although it can sometimes be just as debilitating as more severe joint diseases. The onset and severity of joint symptoms vary widely, and genetics plays a role in this. If one of your parents or grandparents has osteoarthritis, it is more likely that you will develop osteoarthritis around the same age and in the same joints as your family member. “Wear and tear” of the joints may also be accelerated by injuries, overuse or repetitive motion of particular joints, excess weight, smoking, and other medical conditions that contribute to joint damage over time such diabetes mellitus, gout, or peripheral neuropathy.

While there is no way to completely prevent osteoarthritis, there are ways to decrease your risk and protect the joints from damage: regular exercise including strengthening muscles and stretching, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding use of tobacco products, and avoiding injury. To learn more about osteoarthritis, I recommend the following sources: The Arthritis Foundation (www.arthritis.org), the American College of Rheumatology (www.rheumatology.org), and Up To Date (www.uptodate.com).

Beth Lindsey, DO

 

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