What is Osteoarthritis?

Published November 19, 2019

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative form of arthritis whereby the condition will worsen over time. This degeneration commonly affects the cartilage of the spine and joints of the hands, hips, knees and ankles.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2014–15 National Health Survey (NHS), Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in Australia, and about 2.2 million (9%) Australians report having this condition. Osteoarthritis represented over half (62%) of all arthritic conditions in 2017–18.1

The symptoms of Osteoarthritis can be managed even though the damage to joints cannot be reversed. Staying healthy, keeping active and additional treatments may slow the progression and improve pain and joint function
What causes Osteoarthritis?1

No specific cause of Osteoarthritis has been identified but several factors may play a role in its onset and progression.
This may include:

  • Excess weight
  • Joint injury or trauma (such as dislocation or fracture)
  • Repetitive joint-loading tasks (e.g. kneeling, squatting and heavy lifting)
  • Joint misalignment
  • Genetic factors
  • Being female (3 in 5 people who have Osteoarthritis are female)

What are the symptoms of Osteoarthritis?vii

The most common osteoarthritis signs and symptoms are joint pain in the hands, neck, lower back, knees or hips.
Other symptoms may include:

  • Stiffness, crackles, swelling or tenderness in the joints
  • Pain or reduced range of movement
  • Muscle weakness

How is Osteoarthritis diagnosed?2

There is no definitive test that can diagnose Osteoarthritis, but imaging tests may show if damage has occurred.
Tests may include:

  • X-rays: To determine whether the cartilage within the joint is breaking down.
  • MRI scan: To locate the source of the pain.
  • Joint fluid analysis (arthrocentesis): The fluid is withdrawn from the inflamed joint and then analyse for conditions such as, gout, infections or inflammation.
  • Blood tests: To eliminate any other conditions.

Your healthcare professional will be able to advise which test is appropriate for you.

What treatments are available for Osteoarthritis?3

Presently, there is no known cure for Osteoarthritic joint pain. Osteoarthritis is a progressive and chronic condition, and treatment aims at managing symptoms, maintaining mobility and improving the individual’s quality of life.

The treatment model for Osteoarthritis includes physical activity, managing your weight and pharmacological management:

Physical activity3
Physical activity plays an important role in the management of Osteoarthritis. Participating in an exercise program may help improve joint stiffness and pain and may improve joint range of motion and strengthen the muscles supporting the joint.

A healthcare professional or exercise physiologist should be consulted before undertaking an exercise program.

Weight management3
A customer presenting with existing Osteoarthritis, who is also overweight, may find that weight loss can help decrease pain, prevent further joint damage and increase mobility.3

Medications

The aim of pharmacological management is to relieve pain, reduce inflammation and improve functioning and quality of life.iii Analgesics or painkillers, are commonly used to manage the pain. Analgesics include:

  • Paracetamoliv: Used for temporary pain relief
  • Ibuprofenv: Is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) that is used to manage temporary pain and inflammation associated with musculoskeletal disorders, such as osteoarthritis.
  • Mersynofen combines the strength of Paracetamol and Ibuprofen to offer sufferers stronger pain relief than two 500mg tablets of regular Paracetamol4

For more information about Mersynofen, speak with your local pharmacist or call 1800 818 806.

  1. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/osteoarthritis/contents/what-is-osteoarthritis
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoarthritis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351930
  3. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/osteoarthritis/contents/treatment-management
  4. https://www.medicinehow.com/paracetamol/
  5. http://www.medicinenet.com/ibuprofen/article.htm
  6. Mehlisch DR et al. Clin Ther 2010;32(6):1033–49. (Sponsored by RB)
  7. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/osteoarthritis

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