Osteoarthritis (OA)

What is it?

This is the most common rheumatological disease, which becomes the main cause of termination of employment. The most affected are the knee and hip joints, hands and intervertebral joints.

Causes and risk factors

About 80% of the population over 55 years old.

The triggering factor, apparently, is a change in the trophism of the cartilage, the causes of which may be different. Some forms are hereditary. However, in most cases, the damage is caused by both mechanical factors (degeneration due to wear or aging or tissue wear) and biochemical factors.

Which are the symptoms?

There is a high probability that osteoarthritis is not a separate disease, but rather a set of conditions that have common pathologoanatomic and radiological aspects.

Pathologically, osteoarthritis is characterized by focal loss of cartilage in the synovial joint with a hypertrophic reaction of the subchondral bone, which mainly affects the edge of the joint (osteophyte).

On the other hand, the most characteristic changes that can be detected during radiological studies are:

  • narrowing of the articular fissure;

  • subchondral sclerosis;

  • formation of bone cysts (geod) and marginal osteophytes.

The most common symptoms:

  • joint pain (especially under stress);

  • stiffness in the joints after rest;

  • reduced joint mobility;

  • possible deformity of the most frequently affected joints.

How is it diagnosed?

A visit to a specialist and X-ray examinations are used to confirm the diagnosis. Other types of arthritis should also be excluded. However, osteoarthritis may be present simultaneously with other rheumatological diseases.

Suggested exams

How is it treated?

For the present moment, there is no therapy that can significantly change the course of the disease.


  • prevention;

  • recognition of initial lesions to prevent progression;

  • therapy of already obvious forms.prevenzione;

Patients usually seek medical attention for pain, which can be caused by a variety of causes, including a sprained joint capsule, synovitis, etc.

Most often, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed. Their effectiveness is usually symptomatic. They are often prescribed to elderly patients, with a high risk of side effects.

The progress of the disease varies. There are cases of slowly progressing evolution and cases where the phases of deterioration alternate with the phases of stability and improvement. This is good for correcting instability and misalignment, as well as improper use of joints.

Physical therapy plays an important role, especially in maintaining proper posture, strengthening muscles, and mobilizing “blocked” joints. Hydrotherapy is useful for relieving pain and relaxing the muscles by reducing the gravitational load on the joints.

Local applications (heat, ultrasound, or other) may be also useful. In the most serious situations, joint replacement is used.

Suggested procedures

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