JOINT PAIN & OSTEOARTHRITIS
By understanding your knee or hip pain, you’ll be better equipped to find solutions that help you experience the adventure ahead with less pain.
JOINT PAIN AND OSTEOARTHRITIS
Most people are likely to experience joint pain at some point in their lives. Playing sports or engaging in other strenuous activities can contribute to acute pain and inflammation from overuse of the joint. While serious injuries are relatively uncommon, chronic joint pain may progress into a more severe hindrance over time.
What is OA?
WHAT IS OSTEOARTHRITIS (OA)?
Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has shown that approx. 1 in 11 Australians suffer from osteoarthritis1.
Osteoarthritis is a common cause of joint pain, such as knee pain or hip pain. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease, also described as “wear and tear,” which leads to loss of cartilage. Some of the symptoms you may feel if you are experiencing osteoarthritis in addition to knee pain may include joint pain, stiffness and swelling; as well as weakness in the ligaments and muscles around your knee. These can contribute to a reduction in your mobility.
Osteoarthritis is a chronic joint condition, and as it progresses, cartilage protecting the ends of the bones gradually breaks down, joint fluid loses its shock-absorbing qualities and bones may begin to rub against each other. This can cause pain, swelling and problems moving the joint.
Sometimes knee or hip pain caused by bursitis is confused with osteoarthritis. There are some differentiators to be on the lookout for. Bursitis pain increases when pressure is put on the joint and can start sharply to gradually change to a dull ache. Osteoarthritis pain comes on gradually and gets worse over time. However, people with osteoarthritis may also get a bursitis.
Another condition patients with knee pain may be suffering from is meniscal degeneration, a condition often directly related to osteoarthritis. Patients with degenerative meniscal tears suffer from knee pain and limited knee function. In many of those patients, knee osteoarthritis is already present, and where not, a degenerative meniscal tear is classified as a pre-OA condition, indicating that ongoing treatment is needed.
What Causes Osteoarthritis (OA)?
There are several factors that can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis and impact the rate at which osteoarthritis progresses over time.
The most general cause of joint osteoarthritis is "wear and tear", categorised by overuse of the joint, leading to increased load, or pressure, which further breaks down vital cartilage often due to either sports or extra body weight. However, this doesn't mean, that you should avoid any unnecessary movement. Moderate activity is important for osteoarthritis patients, as it strengthens the muscles, stabilises the joints and supports the nutrition of the cartilage.
Extra weight can add increased pressure on joints and often accelerates the degenerative process of cartilage breakdown, causing osteoarthritis. Maintaining a healthy body weight is the primary way to reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Another common cause of osteoarthritis is natural deterioration of the joints over time due to age. Age is a contributing factor in the development of osteoarthritis because the natural ability of cartilage to heal decreases as you get older.
Having a family history of arthritis may increase your likelihood of developing osteoarthritis.
Past joint injury and/or knee surgery
Injuring your knee or hip, and specifically damaging crucial ligaments, can cause cartilage degeneration to start much earlier or progress more rapidly. Those who have torn their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), or sustained other ligament injuries, are at an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis within the next ten years.
What Symptoms are Associated with Osteoarthritis (OA)?
Listed below are the symptoms commonly reported by people who have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, especially if you have previously injured your knee or hip, it is important that you talk to your doctor about osteoarthritis.
- Pain or discomfort in your joints that may reduce mobility, making it difficult to get up and out of chairs, use the stairs, or walk long distances. The pain may be deferred, or even appear in other areas of your body, such as back pain, which could be caused by osteoarthritis.
- Joint swelling may also be an indicator of osteoarthritis, as the inflammation could lead to effusions (excess fluid) in the joint. These are often related to acute worsening of the overall osteoarthritic condition.
- Stiffness, usually due to inflammation, may be common, especially in the morning or after sitting for a long period of time.
- Creaking, crackly and popping sounds when the joints move has also been reported by people suffering from osteoarthritis.