Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis affecting over 32.5 million adults in the United States. OA is a degenerative disease in which the cartilage that cushions the joints breaks down, causing the underlying bones to rub against each other. This rubbing leads to changes in the bone and subsequent pain, stiffness, and swelling. But other conditions can cause similar symptoms so how can you tell if your symptoms are a result of osteoarthritis?

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are several symptoms of OA that tend to develop over time rather than showing up suddenly. The joint(s) may be painful during activity or after a long day of activity. Joint stiffness usually occurs first thing in the morning or after resting. You may experience limited range of motion in the affected joint(s) that may improve or go away after movement. The joint(s) may click or crack when bent and may be swollen. You may also notice muscle weakness around the joint(s) and joint instability or buckling.

What are the risk factors for osteoarthritis?

There are multiple risk factors for developing osteoarthritis. Some things that may lead to OA include age, joint injury or overuse, obesity, gender, and genetics. Some of these are well known causes of OA such as age and injury. Most of us know that as people age, so do their bones, muscles and joints and these structures begin to break down. Similarly, an injury or overuse can cause damage to a joint which may lead to scar tissue and subsequent OA down the line. Some of us may not be aware that increased weight puts more stress on joints and that fat cells promote inflammation. Likewise, most probably don’t know that women are more likely to develop OA than men. And lastly, when OA runs in your family, you are unfortunately more likely to develop OA.

Should I see a doctor?

Only your doctor can diagnose you with OA. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and are concerned that you may have OA, you may want to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms, physical exam, X-rays, and lab test results to help determine if you have OA. And while there is presently no cure for OA, there are multiple treatment options available to help control symptoms. We, of course, promote autologous stem cell therapy but there are things you can do at home too, such as weight loss and walking, which may reduce symptoms of OA.