Osteoarthritis is a group of diseases and mechanical abnormalities that involve degradation of the joints. Sometimes, the degradation can include articular cartilage as well as the subchondral bone that is next to the joint. This condition is the most common form of arthritis and it is also referred to as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease. This disease normally affects the hands, the feet and the spine. It also affects the large bearing joints such as the knees and the hips.
Clinical symptoms of this condition include pain, sharp ache or a burning sensation in the affected muscles and tendons. Other symptoms are stiffness, inflammation and a creaking or a crackling noise when you move or touch the affected joint. You may also experience muscle spasm as well as contractions in the tendons.
Osteoarthritis can lead to loss of cartilage; a protein matrix that lubricates and cushions the joints. When the bone surfaces are less protected as a result of loss of cartilage, the subchondral bone may be exposed and damaged. The re-growths may lead to a proliferation of ivory-like dense reactive bone in the central areas of the cartilage loss. This process is referred to as eburnation.
Although this condition is as a result of trauma, heredity has also been linked as another cause. This disease often affects several members of the same family. Recent studies show high prevalence of the disease among siblings especially identical twins. Sixty percent of osteoarthritis is said to be as a result of genetic factors. Available treatments for this condition include manual therapy, exercise and medications.