Osteoarthritis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Medical Condition


Published on: 12-Aug-2022


10 min read




Kajal Tharwani


Osteoarthritis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Osteoarthritis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

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Arthritis is a very common joint swelling and tenderness. However, osteoarthritis is more severe. But how will you know that you have osteoarthritis? It is the most common type of arthritis with several contributing factors. It can occur in any joint of the body and is linked to cartilage loss. 

Table of Contents 

1. What Is Osteoarthritis?

2. What Are The Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis?

3. What Are The Causes Of Osteoarthritis?

4. Joints Affected In Osteoarthritis?

5. What Is The Treatment?

6. Dietician’s  Recommendation

7. The Final Say 

8. FAQs

What Is Osteoarthritis?

Historically known as wear and tear arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most prevalent disease of joints. The tissue that protects the ends of the bones is called cartilage. In OA, this cartilage deteriorates, leading the bones to rub against one another in the joint. It may cause pain, discomfort, stiffness, and other symptoms.

Osteoarthritis majorly affects adults over 60 years. However, it can also affect anyone, including those between their 20s and 30s. It affects more women than males over the age of 50. 

There are 27 million Americans who are thought to have osteoarthritis. According to WHO (World Health Organisation), Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, “ Hip and knee osteoarthritis is the 11th leading cause of disability.

What Are The Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis?

The hip and knee are the joints that bear most of the body’s weight. However, it also affects the big toe, neck, thumb, fingers and neck. The typical signs of osteoarthritis are: 

  • Joint stiffness
  • Pain in joint
  • Limited range of motion and loss of flexibility
  • Inflammation
  • Bone spurs or bone lump 
  • Grating, crepitus clicking or popping sound when joints move 

These symptoms may not show at earlier stages. They get severe with time. However, progression may lead to total damage of the cartilage or bony growth from the joint edges. 

What Are The Causes Of Osteoarthritis?

The causes of osteoarthritis are categorised as primary and secondary. 

Primary Cause Of Osteoarthritis

The primary cause of osteoarthritis include:

  • Age
  • Metabolism
  • Genetic factors 
  • Overweight
  • Level of certain hormones at different periods of life
  • Sedentary lifestyle and immobilisation of the joints 
  • Bacterial and viral infections 
  • Psychological factors 

Secondary Cause Of Osteoarthritis

The secondary cause of osteoarthritis include:

  • Injuries in joints and bones
  • Congenital malformations of the locomotor system 
  • Inflammatory processes in the joints
  • Aseptic bone necrosis
  • Metabolic diseases
  • Endocrine diseases
  • Digestive tract disorders
  • Degenerative processes of joints and intervertebral discs of the spine

Joints Affected In Osteoarthritis?

The joints that are affected in osteoarthritis are: 

1. The Knee

Knee osteoarthritis is a frequently occurring condition. It is most likely a result of your knee having to support your weight while also enduring tremendous strains, twists, and spins. Having osteoarthritis in both knees is common.

Among adults aged 60 years or older, around 10% of men and 13% of women have symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. 

2. The Hip 

Hip osteoarthritis is another prevalent condition of osteoarthritis. It can affect both hips by the malfunction of hip joints. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint with a wide range of motion.

3. The Hand and Wrist 

Osteoarthritis of the hand and wrist occurs as a part of the medical condition of nodal osteoarthritis( presence of nodes on the joints of each hand). It majorly affects women and starts around menopause. It can affect the base of your thumb and the joints at the end of your fingers. 

4. The Neck And Back

Your spine bone and the discs in between are affected by changes similar to osteoarthritis. The changes in the spine are referred to as spondylosis.

5. The Foot And Ankle 

Foot osteoarthritis affects the joints at the base of your big toe. However, osteoarthritis of the mid-foot is common. The least affected part of the foot is the ankle. 

6. The Shoulder 

The shoulder has two joints that can be affected by osteoarthritis:

Glenohumeral joint: A ball and socket joint where the upper arm meets the shoulder blade.

Acromioclavicular Joint: A smaller joint where the collarbone meets the top of the shoulder blade. 

7. The Elbow 

The elbow joint is not usually affected by osteoarthritis. When it is affected, it follows a single injury or several minor injuries.

8. The Jaw 

The jaw has a temporomandibular joint that is the most used joint in the body. Osteoarthritis in the jaw starts showing early symptoms than any other arthritis. 

What Is The Treatment?

Here are a few treatments one should opt for to get rid of osteoarthritis. 

1. The Physical Treatment 

The physical treatment includes: 

  • Engage yourself in physical activity for around 20 to 30 minutes. You can choose mild, low-impact exercises like walking.
  • Be kind to yourself! Get enough sleep at night. It will help you manage pain effectively. 
  • Manage your weight! A moderate weight lowers your risk of osteoporosis and other health problems. 
  • Get yourself a therapy! You can experiment with cold or heat therapy to ease the discomfort and stiffness in your muscles. 

2. The Medical Treatment 

The medical treatment includes: 

  • Pain killers
  • Topical pain relievers. 
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Surgery (if needed) 

3. The Dietary Treatment 

As per the study review published in 2020, some osteoarthritis, such as knee osteoarthritis, may benefit from a diet rich in flavonoids (vegetables, grains, bark, stems, tea and wine). The flavonoid antioxidants may reduce the production of free radicals by inflammation. They are the chemicals that have the potential to harm cells.

You can include the following elements in your diet: 

  • Fruits and vegetables to reduce inflammation.
  • Fatless dairy products for calcium and vitamin D like fortified milk, processed cheese, curd, buttermilk, tofu paneer etc. 
  • Oils and nuts like fish, tuna, walnut, almond, sunflower seeds, olive oil, etc. 
  • Herbs like turmeric and ginger for the improvement of inflammation as well as boosting immunity.

4. The Complementary Treatments 

Several treatments are available for osteoarthritis. They are prescribed over the counter of treatment. Some of the popular therapies are listed here: 

  • There is proof that Acupuncture can help with some symptoms of osteoarthritis. It repairs the flow of energy by putting tiny needles into precise body spots to restore the natural balance of health.
  • T’ai chi is a mind-body workout that uses a series of smooth, gentle motions to relax the mind and encourage self-healing. It appears to be effective in reducing osteoarthritis symptoms, especially knee osteoarthritis.
  • Osteopaths and chiropractors press on the body’s soft tissues while manually adjusting the body’s alignment. A few researchers support the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment for spinal osteoarthritis.

Dietician’s  Recommendation

For the better treatment of osteoarthritis, you should:

  • Consume calcium-rich foods like milk (without fat), ragi, and broccoli.
  • Consume enough antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, and E.
  • Try to manage a healthy weight. 
  • Consume fish,oil,nuts, garlic,green leafy vegetables, fruits etc.
  • Limit your portion size and adapt a colourful plate. 

The Final Say 

You can not change the common factors of osteoporosis: age and heredity. However, the other risk factors can be controlled. Therefore, keep your BMI ( body mass index) in the appropriate range, eat healthily and focus on your diet. 

Alternative treatments and supplements may also help to relieve symptoms such as inflammation and joint pain. 


1. What foods should be avoided with osteoarthritis?

Avoid inflammatory foods, including sugar, deep-fried foods, saturated fats, full-fat dairy, trans fats, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, and preservatives. 

2. Is banana good for osteoarthritis?

Yes, banana is good for osteoarthritis. It has magnesium and potassium that increase bone density. 

3. What is the difference between arthritis and osteoarthritis?

The cause of joint symptoms separates osteoarthritis from rheumatoid arthritis. The mechanical wear and tear on joints cause osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks the joints.

4. Is osteoarthritis severe?

It can cause severe pain. It is the most common form of arthritis and can affect any joint. 

5. Can stress cause osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis involves a breakdown of joint cartilage. It happens naturally with age, but an injury or physical stress can accelerate the process.



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