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Osteoarthritis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments


According to CDC, an estimate of 1:4 adults in the United States have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. That is roughly 54.4 million people, which shows arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States.

This article will discuss everything about osteoarthritis, from its causes, symptoms, and treatments.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a type of joint disease resulting from cartilage breakdown. The cartilage is the smooth, white tissue that covers the ends of bones and allows them to move smoothly against each other. When this tissue breaks down, it can cause the bones to rub against each other, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of joint disease, affecting people of all ages.

However, it is more common in older adults. There are many treatments for osteoarthritis, including pain relievers, platelet-rich plasma therapy, physical therapy, and surgery. In some cases, osteoarthritis can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding joint injuries.


The most common symptom of osteoarthritis is pain. This pain can be mild or severe and may come and go. Other symptoms include:

  • Stiffness: This is usually worse in the morning or after sitting for a long time.
  • Swelling: This may be caused by fluid buildup in the joints.
  • Crunching or grating: This may be felt or heard when the bones rub together.
  • Locking: This occurs when the joint gets stuck in one position.

Causes of osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis can be caused by several different things, including:


Osteoarthritis is more common in older individuals. A person’s age is the most significant risk factor for developing it. As you age, your cartilage begins to wear down, and your joints become less flexible. That’s why it’s crucial to keep your joints strong and healthy as you age.

Joint injury

If you’ve had an injury to a joint, you’re more likely to develop osteoarthritis in that joint later on. That’s because the cartilage can be damaged, and the joint may not heal properly.


Being overweight or obese puts extra stress on your joints, which can develop osteoarthritis. Losing weight can help reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis or slow its progression.


People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis, especially in the hips and knees. That’s because diabetes can damage the cartilage and cause joint inflammation.

Repetitive motions

repetitive motion at risk of arthritis

If you make the same motions over and over again, it can develop osteoarthritis. This is often seen in people who have jobs that involve repetitive movements, such as typing or assembly line work.

Weak muscles

If your muscles are weak, they can’t support your joints either. This can lead to joint instability and the development of osteoarthritis. Practice strengthening your muscles to help prevent this by lifting weights or doing yoga.

Treatments for osteoarthritis

There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but many treatments can help relieve the pain and improve joint function. These treatments include:

Platelet-rich plasma therapy

Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a treatment that involves taking a patient’s own blood, spinning it down to isolate the platelets, and then injecting the platelets back into the patient’s joints. Platelets are cells in the blood that help clotting and healing, and they contain growth factors that can promote the healing of injuries. The hope with platelet-rich plasma therapy is that by injecting a high concentration of platelets into an injured joint, the growth factors will help to repair the damage from osteoarthritis.

Pain relievers

Pain relievers for osteoarthritis are available by prescription and can be very effective. The most common medication is ibuprofen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Other NSAIDs include naproxen and celecoxib. These medications work by reducing inflammation and pain. If you have renal impairment or are at risk for gastrointestinal bleeding, your doctor may prescribe acetaminophen.


Surgery is one way to treat osteoarthritis, but it’s not always the best option. In some cases, surgery can help to improve joint function and relieve pain. However, surgery also has risks, such as infection and blood clots. In addition, surgery does not always provide a long-term solution, and the joint may eventually need to be replaced. For these reasons, it’s important to discuss your options with your doctor before deciding whether or not to have surgery.

The bottom line

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that can cause pain and joint damage. There are many different treatments available, and the best one for you will depend on your individual situation. Talk to your doctor about all of your options so that you can make the best decision for your health.

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