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Osteoarthritis Case

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  • Category: Disease

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In human body, bone formation plays a significant role in proper functioning of other parts of the human body. However, it is observed that a number of individuals, particularly older people and women confront bone-related diseases during their adulthood and old age due to a number of risk factors associated with diseases. Some of such diseases are osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, etc. Studies have indicated that more than nine million people are suffering from abovementioned bone-related illnesses in the United Kingdom alone, while the United States is not behind with eleven million sufferers (Lohmander, pp. 86-92, 2003). Such a huge number of affected people have inclined researchers and experts to carry out studies to identify factors causing such diseases in the human body. In specific, this paper will focus on one of such bone-related diseases that have affected millions of individuals around the globe: Osteoarthritis.

One of the major consequences of osteoarthritis is the limitation in functioning of various body parts that result in the reduction of quality standards of life. In other words, joint pains during this clinical syndrome bring depression, stress, and trauma for the patients, and thus, clinical experts consider osteoarthritis as one of the major sources of pain and limited functionality around the globe after osteoporosis, arthritis, etc. Moreover, studies specified that osteoarthritis usually affects hips, knees, shoulders, and hand joints in the human body that limit structural movements of patients (Murtagh, pp. 19-21, 2001). In addition, such clinical syndrome is one of the diseases that often do not accompany any significant symptoms, and thus, prevention is one of the most effective treatments of osteoarthritis.

As ageing is one of the major causes of osteoporosis, a number of individuals have continued to believe that it is the case with osteoarthritis as well. However, experts recognized that ageing factor is not the major cause of osteoarthritis and it is only a myth related to this clinical syndrome. One of the major causes of such myth is huge number of patients of osteoarthritis in older world population. According to the World Health Organization, this disease has affected more than ten percent of world’s older population (Lohmander, pp. 86-92, 2003). In Canada, osteoarthritis is one of the most common diseases in the country that has resulted in damage of spine, as well as knee and hip joints especially. One of the Canadian experts (Lagace, pp. 2-3, 2003) stated that although arthritis is a syndrome for aged people; however, studies indicated that individuals younger than sixty-five years are major sufferers of osteoarthritis.

Now, the paper will attempt to identify definitions, various risk factors, causes, and symptoms associated with the disease, and will then, endeavor to recognize and discuss some of the diagnoses and treatments available for Osteoarthritis.

Definition & Consequences

Clinically, all tissues in human joints go through a repair process metabolically that result in loss of cartilages during reconstruction of adjoining bones, and osteoarthritis is the process responsible for repairing of the joint tissues (Murtagh, pp. 12-16, 2003). During human life, joints experience different traumas that require repairing through osteoarthritis that effectively carry out the repair process in a gradual manner. Such process reimburses the trauma by restructuring joints. However, studies noted that irresistible trauma in some individuals enforces osteoarthritis to stop compensation that results in deterioration of joint tissues, and consequently, join failure in the human body.

As earlier mentioned, osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of pain and depression, and the most widespread type of arthritis around the globe. Clinically, it is termed osteoarthritis; however, few experts refer it as a degenerative joint syndrome (Moskowitz, pp. 112-129, 2006). Mostly, cartilage affects during osteoarthritis that is responsible for covering ends of human bones essential for the formation of joints, and damage of cartilage subsequently affects the joints. In specific, cartilage plays a major role in strengthening bone formation and joints by absorption of energy during physical movement of the body.

However, osteoarthritis causes breakage in exterior layer of cartilage that enables bones to thump each other during the movement that causes pain, and swelling in extreme cases. During osteoarthritis, a major alteration can be observed in structures and shapes of the joints due to continuous rubbing of bones, along with presence of osteophytes (small dumps of bone) on joint edges (Moskowitz, pp. 112-129, 2006). Clinicians indicated that patients suffers from more pain, as more and more bits of cartilage start roaming around the joint space that cause severe pain during the physical movement.

In the result, patients suffering from osteoarthritis confront pain in their joints and suffer isolation due to limitation in their physical movements. However, it is noted that while join function is deteriorated and limited during osteoarthritis, but it does not affect skin tissues, immune system, etc in the human body unlike other types of arthritis: rheumatoid arthritis, etc. This reason is the result of symptom-free characteristics of osteoarthritis in the human body, and thus, it becomes very difficult for clinicians to identify and recognize that an individual is suffering from osteoarthritis.

Risk Factors

In the year 2000, a health conference on osteoarthritis wrapped up by stating that unlike other bone-related diseases, ageing is not the major factor in the case of osteoarthritis, and this clinical syndrome is an outcome of a mixture of risk factors in the human body (Way, pp. 29-37, 2005). In this regard, experts identified two kinds of factors: adjustable and nonadjustable. Specifically, age and sex are the nonadjustable risk factors associated with osteoarthritis, as studies noted that women suffer from osteoarthritis twice, as compared with men. Menopause is one of the risk factors in women that encourage osteoarthritis in the body as in the case of osteoporosis (Felson, pp. 2000, pp. 635-646). Although ageing is not the major factor, but it does play role in causing osteoarthritis, as older people entering into sixties and seventies suffer from natural form of osteoarthritis.

One of the key reasons of ignoring the ageing factor is that a majority of individuals suffers from joint pains during their employment period, and thus, ageing cannot be the only risk factor of osteoarthritis. Besides age and sex, genetics is one of the unmodified threats that cause osteoarthritis clinically. In specific, a number of anatomical elements play supportive role in anatomical; however, future researches are essential in understanding association of genetics with such genetic elements. One of the other nonadjustable risk factors is presence of a joint injury in patient’s history that also escorts osteoarthritis in individuals.

Besides nonadjustable risk factors, obesity, physical immobility, workplace stress, depression, and participation in extreme sports are some of the changeable risk factors. Obesity is one of the most common risk factors that cause immobility and physical activity in obese individuals, and thus, plays a crucial role in developing state of osteoarthritis in knee, hip, shoulder, and hand joints (Felson, pp. 2000, pp. 635-646). In addition, experts indicated that a number of patients experiencing osteoarthritis accept physical inactivity throughout their adulthood due to employment schedules or reasons other than obesity. Thus, experts specified that inclusion of physical and sport activities in individuals from childhood play a significant role in avoiding osteoarthritis in adulthood and old age (Lievense, 228-236, 2003).


            Besides abovementioned changeable and non-modifiable risk factors, experts have identified a number of causes that develop osteoarthritis in the human body. It is noted that diabetes is one of the causes of osteoarthritis, as patients suffering from diabetes are more vulnerable to the effects of osteoarthritis, as compared with other individuals. Besides diabetes, some of the other endocrinal problems, such as hypothyroidism play a significant role in causing osteoarthritis (Felson, pp. 2000, pp. 635-646). In addition to endocrinal problems, infected joints, rheumatoid disease, and similar inflammatory joint diseases are major causes of osteoarthritis as well.

            Recent researches related to this clinical syndrome concluded that a number of patients of osteoarthritis were suffering from metabolic diseases, and improper functioning of metabolism during diseases like Wilson or Paget disease cause osteoarthritis (NICE, pp. 1-25). Moreover, a number of patients suffering from osteoarthritis have unusual legs in terms of their length that may be a source of osteoarthritis due to unequal or improper leg movement. Furthermore, research related to osteoarthritis indicated that individuals confronting nerve problems are prone to this syndrome, as neuropathic problems do not allow them to feel the injury that allows severe injury in the joins, and consequently, osteoarthritis. Although osteoarthritis is a symptom-free clinical syndrome; however, a few symptoms present in patients of osteoarthritis will now be a part of discussion in the paper.


            As earlier mentioned, it is very difficult to identify signs and symptoms during osteoarthritis; however, pain is the most common symptoms identified in all the patients of osteoarthritis. During join movements, patients may feel rigidity and pain in their joints, and clinicians specified that such pain might increase at night. Moreover, advancement in the progress of arthritis may result in pain at rest as well. During osteoarthritis, some of the affected joints are hands, knees hips, shoulders, and spine (Murtagh, pp. 19-21, 2001).

            In specific, heberden nodes in finger joints are common affected joints during osteoarthritis; however, they often are painless, but swollen, and termed as nodal osteoarthritis. Studies have indicated that women aged fifty years are prone to such kind of affected finger joints (NICE, pp. 1-25). Besides fingertips, hips and knees play a major role in bearing major weight of the body, and thus, intense weight bearing in cases of construction laborers, farmers, etc, result in hip and knee osteoarthritis, and can be observed during knee and hip movements.


            In terms of diagnosis, osteoarthritis cannot be diagnoses by a single assessment, and thus, a combination of different tests allows doctors and physicians to diagnose this clinical syndrome in the human body. In this regard, analysis of clinical history is the foremost step during diagnosis of osteoarthritis. Some of the queries asked during analysis of clinical history are commencement of abovementioned symptoms, presence of such problems in family members, medications taken by patient during the last few years, etc (Murtagh, pp. 12-16, 2003). All such queries allow physicians to carry out an effective diagnosis. Besides clinical history of the patient, it is very essential to examine the patient physically. During such diagnosis, physicians usually check joint reflexes to check strength of muscles while observing walking, bending, sitting, and sleeping style of the patients.

            In addition to observations and analysis, technology plays a crucial role in carrying out an efficient diagnosis. In this regard, x-rays is one of the most common ways of analyzing joint damages and identifying amount of cartilage loss and presence of bone spurs in the joints (Way, pp. 29-37, 2005). Although x-rays facilitate physicians in observing joint damage; however, experts recognized that x-ray could not provide a complete status of syndrome, as there is often a huge difference in the amount of damage and severity of pain felt by patients (Osteoarthritis Research Society, pp. 55-63, 2001). Further, magnetic resonance imaging is an effective technique that allows acquiring of digital pictures of joint tissues through utilization of magnets for the creation of such images. In this way, MRI is playing a significant role in facilitating clinicians during the diagnosis of osteoarthritis.


As earlier mentioned that pain and functional immobility are some of the major factors that enforce patients to consult doctors, a major challenge confronted by clinicians is reduction of pain in joints. However, since osteoarthritis cannot be cured, experts believe that prevention is one of the most effective strategies that can treat osteoarthritis on long-term basis. In this regard, exercise is one of the most common and easy strategies that can prevent osteoarthritis in the human body. Researches (Hunter, pp. 87-94, 2008) have stated that human body has been created to move, function, and work, and physical inactivity results in corrosion of joints. In such a case, exercise helps in the improvement of body outlook, increase mobility, as well as blood flow in the body that allows individuals to maintain their weight and increase flexibility in body parts.

A major advantage of exercise is its inexpensiveness that can benefit anybody. Some of the common types of exercise advised during osteoarthritis are aerobics, swimming, and walking (Heller, pp. 326-331, 2004). Physical therapists play a significant role in suggesting efficient exercises based on body outlook of the patient. Another efficient technique to treat osteoarthritis and ease the pain is TENS that stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. An electronic device is utilized by clinicians to send electric pulses in affected joint area that helps in the reduction of joint pains. In other words, brain receives signals of pain, and TENS technique utilizes electric device to block such messages by the modification of pain sensitivity (Rosemann, pp. 1-5, 2007). Besides exercise and TENS technique, clinicians and physicians suggest a number of medicines that may help in treating osteoarthritis effectively. In this regard, following are some of the medicines available for osteoarthritis:

  • Acetaminophen: One of the most common types of acetaminophen is Tylenol, used to relive pain. Although it is used for headache, fever, etc; however, it plays a significant role in reducing pain in bone joints during osteoarthritis (American College of Rheumatology, pp. 1905-1915, 2000). In specific, it is one of the common prescriptions for patients suffering from osteoarthritis due to its efficiency against pain.
  • Tramadol: This pain-relieving medicine is not available without prescription like Tylenol; however, it is an effective medicine to provide instant relief during joint pains. One of the major reasons of unavailability without prescription is presence of some risks, such as addition in this medicine, and thus, although it is an efficient medicine, but is not encouraged commonly by doctors.
  • Corticosteroids: It is a term used to refer natural anti-inflammatory male hormones in the body; however, advancement in medicinal science has allowed individuals to develop such hormones in an artificial manner through this medicine. During pain and stress in hips or knee joints, corticosteroids are injected in the joints to reduce the pain (American College of Rheumatology, pp. 1905-1915, 2000). Doctors also do not recommend this medicine usually, patients are only allowed to use it four times annually, and thus, it is usually termed as a short-term treatment of osteoarthritis.
  • NSAIDs: NSAIDs are Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that are effective medicinal treatments for reliving pain, as well as for treating inflammation as well. Some of the common examples of NSAIDs are naproxen, aspirin etc. It is noted that prostaglandins are responsible for inflammation and pain in joints, and thus, such elements are blocked by the utilization of abovementioned NSAIDs (American College of Rheumatology, pp. 1905-1915, 2000).

Researches have indicated that although above-mentioned natural and medicinal treatments are efficient, but they are short-term except exercise, and thus, patients look forward for an effective treatment that may provide a long-term relief from the pain. In this regard, surgery plays a significant role in reduction of pain and increasing the functionality of joints. After the advancement in healthcare science, surgeons can now remove bone spurs from joint areas, and such is an effective methodology of reducing the pain (Hunter, pp. 87-94, 2008). A number of surgeries are now available that may reposition and restructure the formation of bones and joints by smoothening of bones in the joints.

            Besides physicians, clinicians, and surgeons, physiotherapists are playing a significant role in treating osteoarthritis in an efficient manner. In addition, they offer various therapies to patients suffering from this clinical syndrome that facilitate them in reducing adverse effects of osteoarthritis. Some of the most common therapies are acupuncture, folk remedies, and utilization of nutritional supplements that relieve the pain in significant manner (Bradley, pp. 409-416, 1999).


Conclusively, the paper has discussed significant aspects of osteoarthritis while discussing its definition, risk factors, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments that were valuable in better understanding of this clinical syndrome that is affecting millions of individuals around the globe. It is believed that future research and advancements will open up new doors to treat osteoarthritis patients in a more effective manner. Until then, a combination of exercise, participation in sport activities, and continuous mobility will facilitate individuals in preventing such disease. It is hoped that the paper will be beneficial for students, teachers, and professionals in better understanding of the topic.



American College of Rheumatology. (2000). “Recommendations for the Medical Management of Osteoarthritis of the Hip and Knee.” Journal of Arthritis & Rheumatism. Volume 43, pp. 1905-1915.

Bradley, J. (1999). “Use of complementary therapies for arthritis.” Annals of Internal Medicine. Volume 131, Issue 6, pp. 409-416.

Felson, D. T. (2000). “Osteoarthritis: New Insights: the Disease and Its Risk Factors.” Annals of Internal Medicine. Volume 133, Issue 8, pp. 635-646.

Heller, D. A. (2004). “Health-related quality of life and health service use among older adults with osteoarthritis.” Journal of Arthritis and Rheumatism. Volume 51, Issue 3, pp. 326-331.

Hunter, David. (2008). Osteoarthritis. Oxford University Press.

Lagace, C. (2003). The Impact of Arthritis on Canadians. Ottawa: Health Canada.

Lievense, A. M. (2003). “Influence of sporting activities on the development of osteoarthritis of the hip.” Journal of Arthritis & Rheumatism. Volume 49, Issue 2, pp. 228-236.

Lohmander, Stefan. (2003). Osteoarthritis. Oxford University Press.

Moskowitz, Roland W. (2006). Osteoarthritis. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Murtagh, John. (2001). “Osteoarthritis of Hip.” The Australian Doctor. Volume 19, Issue 3, pp. 19-21.

Murtagh, John. (2003). Patient Education. McGraw-Hill Professional.

NICE. (2008). “Osteoarthritis.” NICE Clinical Guideline. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, pp. 1-25.

Osteoarthritis Research Society. (2001). Osteoarthritis and cartilage. Bailliere Tindall Publishing.

Rosemann, Thomas. (2007). “Osteoarthritis.” Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research. Volume 2, Issue 12, pp. 1-5.

Way, Lawrence W. (2005). Current Surgical Diagnosis & Treatment. Mc-Graw Hill Professional.

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