What Is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease that combines degradation of joint cartilage, damage to the bone under the cartilage, and inflammation of the synovial membrane. This is the reason why we can say that the whole joint is affected by this disease. Where does osteoarthritis pain come from? In the normal state, there is a balance between the production and destruction of cartilage.
Osteoarthritis appears when this balance is upset under the effect of mechanical (such as too much pressure) or biological phenomena (such as metabolic dysfunction). It is the appearance of this imbalance that causes pain in OA patients. Several elements can recognize the pain associated with osteoarthritis:
- they are caused and amplified by movement and are relieved by rest;
- they come back chronically each time the joint is stressed
- they gradually increase during the day;
- they can be the source of awakenings during the night or slow down falling asleep;
- The progression of osteoarthritis is slow.
It is interspersed with acute painful attacks during which the destruction of the cartilage is accelerated. Osteoarthritis like knee arthritis (ข้อ เข่า อักเสบ which is the term in Thai) is the most common joint disease. Its onset is increasingly precocious. It is, therefore, not only an “old man’s disease,” even if its frequency increases with age and if it is one of the leading causes of disability in the elderly.
Osteoarthritis visible on x-rays (radiological osteoarthritis) mainly affects the spine and fingers. Osteoarthritis, which manifests in pain and discomfort when walking (symptomatic osteoarthritis), is relatively localized to the hip and knee.
The main risk factors for osteoarthritis are:
- the overweight (overweight and obesity) in question in osteoarthritis of the knee and hip;
- the anatomic abnormalities of the hip (dysplasia) or knee (misalignment);
- the after-effects of joint trauma, typical in sports and leisure activities;
- Joint overwork is caused by repetitive strain injuries, as may be encountered in contact sports or certain repetitive professional activities.