Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis which is also known as degenerative arthritis. It is a rather debilitating condition for the sufferer especially in its more advanced stages. Typically, the sufferer is afflicted by pains and stiffness which can also lead to reduced mobility or total loss of it. The pain can become quite intense, usually worse after exercise.
There are several parts of the body which can be affected but the following are the most commonly affected:
What are the symptoms and the causes?
Osteoarthritis tends to be quite common amongst older people and it’s caused by the loss of cartilage, a substance that cushions joints and absorbs the shock of the impact we get from various movements we do on a daily basis. It is only natural that after many years the cartilage between the bones and joints gets worn out and there is thus, will be less cartilage to lubricate the movements between bones. With the reduction in the total amount of cartilage between bones, movements tend to become harder as the friction between the bones increase due to decreased lubrication.
Females are more likely than males to suffer from osteoarthritis after the age of 55. The incidence rate is higher amongst obese and overweight individuals and people who have suffered fractures and breakages earlier in life. High impact sports which consistently cause shock to the joints such as running, basketball and football can also result in the onset of osteoarthritis later in life.
The condition is also known to have a hereditary component which means that there are certain genes, which are known to be linked to the illness, which run in families.
The condition cannot be diagnosed thoroughly through any blood test. X rays can be used however and these will reveal areas where cartilage volume is clearly less than normal. The gap between the actual joints will clearly appear reduced. In severe cases of osteoarthritis, the actual bones will be shorter.
A few physical tests will help confirm whether the person is suffering from osteoarthritis. When asked to try certain movement, joints will make crackling sounds. The sufferer might even find the movements to hard to carry out.
There are treatments which can help alleviate the symptoms and ease the life of the OA sufferer. Some of these drugs may be purchased over the counter, such as glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulfate. Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen may prove effective. Other alternatives include Corticosteroids in the place where discomfort occurs.
Further to this, whilst it may be tempting to avoid activity as this may increase the discomfort temporarily, orthopedic surgeons and doctors suggest avoiding sedentary lifestyles. This can lead to further stiffening of the joints and increased chances of weight gain which can aggravate the condition.
Nowadays, genetic testing for osteoarthritis predisposition is available direct to consumers who wish to know if they have a strong change or a weak chance of developing osteoarthritis. Anyone interested needs to just provide a DNA sample that will then need to undergo genetic analysis to determine just how likely the individual tested is of developing osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis has a strong genetic component and people who come from families where other blood family members have suffered from the condition are more likely to develop it themselves. DNA testing and genetic analysis in numerous studies carried has pointed at three main genes as being the culprit.
Further tests have more recently isolated another eight genetic sequences which are connected to the genetic onset of osteoarthritis (amongst which CHST11, PTHLH, and FTO). In total, scientists believe the interplay between several of the genes found is to blame but place more importance on a gene they have named the GNL3 – this gene produces a special protein which is very important for human cell’s optimal functioning.
Simon Meadows is an online free lance writer currently reading a Masters in Science at University. In his spare time, Simon writes articles about genetic analysis and DNA tests, a field of particular interest to the author. Those wishing to read more articles by the Author can find a broad list by visiting www.easydna.co.nz