April 10, 2008

What Are The Common Complications of Osteoarthritis?

Posted in Category : Bone, Joint & Muscles Disorders
The most common type of arthritis that affects people the world over is osteoarthritis. This degenerative joint disease, also known as wear-and-tear arthritis, arises when the cartilage that protects the bone gets worn down over a period of time, due to daily wear and tear. According to reports, around 10 million Americans are affected by osteoarthritis. This disease can affect any joint in the body, but it mostly affects the neck, hands, lower back, hips, and knees. Factors that put you at a higher risk of getting osteoarthritis are bone deformities, certain jobs, injuries to your joints, obesity, old age, other diseases, sedentary lifestyle, and your sex. The condition gets worse with time, but there are methods to improve joint movements, slow down the disease, and alleviate pain.


A cartilage holds together the ends of bones that are present in your joints; when this deteriorates due to constant use or wear and tear, it leads to osteoarthritis. The cartilage is responsible for your joints moving with minimal friction, but it tends to become rough when osteoarthritis sets in. If the cartilage disappears all together because of excess wear and tear, it causes bone to rub on bone, which is extremely painful. The first sign of osteoarthritis of the pelvic bone is if you experience stiffness or uneasiness when you wake up in the morning in your buttock, groin, or thighs. The pain will be worse when you are working and ease a little bit when you take rest. Get it treated immediately as ignoring the condition could make it deteriorate further.


Osteoarthritis is a condition that starts gradually and worsens with time as it progresses. Here are a few signs and symptoms to watch out for. If any of these symptoms persists for a week or two make sure that you consult your doctor.
  • Bone spurs: An extra growth forms around the bone that could be hard and lumpy in the region of the joint that is affected.
  • Grating sensation: When using that particular joint you could feel or hear grating.
  • Loss of flexibility: You could face difficulty in moving the affected joint in full range.
  • Pain: While moving the affected joint you could experience pain.
  • Stiffness: Your joint could feel stiff, more so in the morning and after being inactive for a period of time.
  • Tenderness: If you apply slight pressure on the joint you might sense tenderness.
Complications of osteoarthritis
There are various complications associated with osteoarthritis as it is a degenerative disease. The most common complications are pain and stiffness of the joints that are serious enough to hinder you from performing daily tasks. When the pain in your joints becomes unbearable, your doctor may suggest that you opt for joint replacement surgery.
Other complications could include osteonecrosis or death of the bone, bleeding within the joint, infected joints, ruptured ligaments and tendons surrounding the joint, or if you are suffering from osteoarthritis of the spine, you could feel a pinched nerve. There are a few more complications that are rare but could arise if you are suffering from knee osteoarthritis. Calcification can occur on the cartilage due to calcium crystals. Osteoarthritis deteriorates rapidly when calcium crystals form on the cartilage, and you could feel a sharp painful inflammation when the crystal detaches itself. In some cases a Baker’s cyst could form when excess joint fluid is created and it gets trapped in the hernia. These cysts do not usually cause pain unless you are exercising.


No cure has been found for osteoarthritis yet, though there are certain treatments that can help you alleviate pain and improve joint movement.
  • Your doctor may prescribe you medication that should help with the pain, recommend therapy to strengthen your joints, or in severe cases, surgery may be recommended. You could be prescribed acetaminophen that helps with people suffering from mild to moderate pain, but it does not decrease the swelling. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory help alleviate pain while also reducing any inflammation. For people suffering from severe pain, the recommended medication is usually narcotics. It is best not to take any medication on your own and consult your doctor for a treatment plan.
  • Another thing your doctor may ask you to do is to see a physical therapist that will be able to help you with suitable exercises that will help strengthen your joint muscles, giving you a better range of motion and alleviating pain.
  • Avoid stressing the affected joints. You could also try braces, splints, and shoe inserts that could aid with decreasing the pain.
  • There are classes to help you cope with osteoarthritis, and they teach you how to manage your pain as well.
  • Surgical options and other procedures open to patients suffering from osteoarthritis are cortisone shots, joint replacement, lubrication injections and realigning bones.