Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease, is the most common joint diseases. It occurs most often in older people.

It occurs most often in middle-aged and elderly, affecting the neck, lower back, knees, hips and joints of the fingers.

Radiation Test

Approximately 70% of people older than 70 years show radiographic evidence of disease, but symptoms develop only half of them. Osteoarthritis can also affect joints that have been previously damaged by prolonged overuse, infection, or previous rheumatic disease. Patients with OA experience pain and functional impairment.

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Causes

Osteoarthritis occurs when the articular cartilage degenerates. The causes of deterioration of cartilage are numerous. We know that some types of arthritis are hereditary, including the most common form that causes deformity of the knuckles and which has found a specific genetic defect. This anomaly results in a change in one of the basic components of proteins, called amino acids, which causes premature deterioration of cartilage. Multiple research papers dealing with this genetic abnormality, and new methods for studying cells, chemistry and function of cartilage. All these efforts are producing a rapid development of new knowledge about osteoarthritis.

Social and health impact

Osteoarthritis affects millions of people. Virtually all people over 75 have at least one joint.
Women are affected more frequently, and in men, the disease usually appears at an earlier age.
Diagnosis. The suspicion arises when osteoarthritis is pain in the joints that characteristically affect the disease. This suspicion should be confirmed by physical examination, radiographs and the exclusion of other types of joint disease. Keep in mind that since this is a very common disease, can occur simultaneously with another rheumatic disease.

Treatment of osteoarthritis

Treatment of OA includes nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic measures aimed at relieving pain and improve joint function. Drug therapy should begin by using analgesics simple ( Tylenol) may be added after NSAIDs ( ibuprofen and naproxen sodium) or raised intra-articular (infiltration) intermittent corticosteroids.

Nonpharmacologic treatment includes education the patient, to restore joint movement and increase muscle strength and aerobic capacity, reduction of weight on painful joints and applying heat or ice to relieve the pain. In severely damaged joints may be necessary for repair or replacement surgery (joint replacements), to eliminate pain and restore function.

Consulting the Rheumatologist

Rheumatologists are the leaders in research and treatment of osteoarthritis. But, because of the high frequency of the disease, doctors from all specialties involved in the care of arthritic patients.
The rheumatologist acts as educator of primary care physician as team leader when required a multidisciplinary approach to disease.