What You Can Expect With an Osteoarthritis Diagnosis
A while ago we talked about the different types of arthritis and we focused specifically on rheumatoid arthritis. And now we’d like to talk some more about osteoarthritis, as you have to be more specific if you’re looking for clinical trials for your condition – with 578 trials popping up when you enter “arthritis” into the search box, there are 583 for “osteoarthritis”. So what’s the difference? While RA (rheumatoid arthritis) is an autoimmune inflammatory disease, OA is a degenerative joint disease, there is e certain degree of inflammation in later stages, but that’s not what OA is characterized by.Why RA is Vastly Different than OA
OA is basically the breaking down of the cartilage tissue that covers both ends of the opposing bones that make up the joint. This cartilage tissue provides protection for the bones and makes joint movements smooth and painless. So, what happens when the cartilage wears down is, yes, pain.
Painful movements, no protection for the bones, which in turn, without the tissue covering them, rub against each other and start breaking down as well. Now, the inflammation part takes place a bit earlier, before the cartilage wears away entirely, when enzymes and cytokines (remember, we talked about these in our article on JAK inhibitors?) are released when the affected organism responds to OA… the trouble is, they further damage the cartilage tissue, so in an effort to protect itself the body makes it easier on the disease to develop.
Where can we spot the first symptoms? While OA does not limit itself to particular kinds of joints, it most often affects knees, hips, lower back, neck and the small joints of the hand.
It is estimated that 1 in 2 adults will develop OA symptoms in the knee throughout the course of their adulthood, 1 in 4 will develop OA symptoms in the hip by the time they reach 85 and 1 in 12 adults over 60 has OA affecting their hand.
Risk factors include age, family history, physical shape and overuse of the affected joint. The most common symptom is a pain, as already mentioned, but there might also be joint stiffness or swelling, and what is typically referred to as “loss of range of motion”. Most people affected by OA before the age of 45 are male, while women over 55 are more frequently affected compared to the men of the same age group.Find Clinical Trials for OA
The pain – where and why
OA which affects the spine often goes along with bony spurs (osteophytes). Due to their proximity to spinal nerves, they can cause severe pain and even numbness and tingling, which can be really scary for the unprepared person who experiences OA symptoms for the first time in the spinal area.
Bone deformities are common in OA which affects the small joints too – an enlargement resulting from bony spurs at the end of the small joint of the fingers is called Heberden’s node. It’s also common for an enlargement to appear at the middle section of the finger, that’s called Bouchard’s node. Those deformities, while often not painful, cause a decrease in the motion range of the joint and are often the result of heredity.
What are the treatments currently available? Well, unfortunately, there is no treatment aimed at reducing the degeneration of the cartilage or repairing what is already damaged. The main goal of OA treatment is to reduce pain and inflammation and to preserve the joint function as much as possible. In some cases, joint replacement surgery can be performed if the pain is unmanageable or movement is drastically limited.
Weight loss is recommended for people who are struggling with obesity or who are simply not at the optimal weight for their body, especially if OA has affected weight-bearing joints such as the hip or the knee. Avoiding activities that put unnecessary pressure on the affected joints is also advised even though for some people it can mean giving up on activities which play a big part in their sense of fulfillment and purpose, such as sports, certain kinds of jobs and so on.
For this reason, we at FindMeCure hope that one day in the not-so-distant future one of those clinical trials searching for a cure, is going to find a much better alternative – a treatment that stops the degenerative process and allows people who have OA to keep on living their lives with no limitations.
We will keep you updated on what’s going on in those clinical trials, so you know you have some options and it can get better than simply reducing your pain.
Find available clinical trials for OA! Use the field below to explore suitable options near you: