Joints Most Commonly Affected by Osteoarthritis

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Joints Most Commonly Affected by Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is highly prevalent in weight-bearing joints and some common parts affected by OA are knees, hip, hands, and vertebral column.

Joints Most Commonly Affected by Osteoarthritis

The weight-bearing joints of the body, namely knees, hip, and vertebral column, which hold us up when we stand and carry the mass of our body, are the areas that can get primarily affected by osteoarthritis (OA). In the case of the ankle, another weight-bearing joint, OA typically results from previous joint trauma caused by rigorous and repetitive sports training or accidents. Some non-weight-bearing joints that are prone to OA are fingers and thumbs. OA is rare in other non-weight-bearing joints.

OA of the knee

OA is most commonly seen in the knee and women above 40 are the worst-hit. In this “wear and tear” type of OA, as the joints gradually deteriorate the bone, cartilage and synovial membrane, the pain intensifies from nil, occasional and moderate to severe and unbearable. As the soft cartilage lining the ends of bones in these joints wears off, the bones begin to rub together, causing pain and stiffness, instead of sliding over each other without friction. When a cartilage is thinned or damaged, the nearby bones tend to develop tiny, pointed outgrowths (bone spurs) on the edges of one’s joint, causing numbness and restricting movement.

The synovial membrane, inflamed by the products released during OA, may release extra synovial fluid, causing swelling of the joints (effusion or “water on the knee”) and is accompanied by pain in the back of the knee, stiffness, redness, and warmth. When there is significant synovial effusion, it might be necessary to drain off the excess fluid (joint aspiration) using a thin needle. 

OA of the knee

OA of the hip

OA of the hip

This is the second most common form of OA and occurs most often in people aged 60 or above, as a result of heavy lifting and manual work. This medical condition could manifest in younger demographics, but mostly in people with hip or skeleton abnormalities present since birth. There could be a hereditary component in some cases. Radiography is a common technique used to evaluate patients with hip OA.

In OA of the hip, the groin, thigh or buttocks are typically the locations of the pain, which might worsen with walking, standing and other weight-bearing activities. In advanced cases, severe pain is felt in the hips even after one has stopped walking. People also find it hard to stand up after long periods of sitting (i.e. “startup pain”). 

OA of the hand

This is mostly seen in women, especially during menopause; and the probability of this condition is dependent on hormone levels, genetic factors, and even small injuries in the past. Its symptoms include pain in the thumbs, knuckles and wrists, weak grip, bony growth in the knuckles, thumb bases appearing unattractively knobby, as well as numbness and tingling sensation in the fingers. 

OA of the hand

OA of the vertebral column

OA of the vertebral column

This degenerative condition, generally diagnosed after age 50, arises due to the dying out and shrinking of spinal disks, often as a result of obesity, previous injuries and a general genetic disposition to OA. Stiffness or pain in the neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine), apart from lack of sensation in the legs, arms, and even the spinal cord in severe cases, is the common sign of spinal OA.  

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