Risk Factors for the Development and Progression of Arthritis

• Normal ageing process causes an increased progression

• 27% of persons ages 63-70 have radiographic evidence of knee OA, increasing to 44% in those 80 and older

• Collateral ligament, meniscal tears, and joint fractures lead to increased risk for OA

• Men with a history of known injury were at 5-6 fold increased risk of developing OA

• Performing heavy physical work. Dockers, miners and farmers commonly develop OA

• High impact sports present an increase for OA

• Men under the age of 50 have a higher prevalence and incidence

• Women over 50 have a higher prevalence and incidence (menopause may be a trigger)

• Difference is less marked after the age of 80

• Generally more common in Europeans than in Asians

• There is genetic susceptibility to the disease. Children of parents with early onset OA are at a higher risk of developing OA themselves

• The strongest modifiable arthritis risk factor is weight.  Being overweight at an average age of 36-37 is a risk factor for developing knee OA

• Threefold increase risk of progression of OA for people in the lower decile of vitamin C and D blood levels

• High bone mineral density increases OA risk

Arthritis Types and General Facts

There are more than 100 different types of arthrthis. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA) or degenerative joint disease. It is a common chronic, progressive musculoskeletal disorder characterized by gradual loss of articular cartilage. The disease most commonly affects the middle-aged and elderly, although it may begin earlier as a result of injury or overuse.

Osteoarthritis is often more painful in weight bearing joints such as the knees, hips, cervical and lumbosacral spine, and feet. Other commonly affected joints include the distal interphalangeal (hands and feet), and the proximal interphalangeal and carpometacarpal joints. Modern consensus among rheumatologists is that OA involves not only the articular (hyaline) cartilage, but also the entire joint organ, including the subchondral bone and synovium.

Osteoarthritis Pain Management and Non-Surgical Treatment Options

At present, there is no cure for OA. The goal of common non-surgical remedies, therapies and treatments are to collectively improve function and quality of life while limiting potential drug toxicity damage and complications. Non-surgical options include:

  • Education (patient and spouse or family)
  • Social support
  • Physiotherapy (physical therapy)
  • Occupational therapy
  • Weight loss
  • Exercise – The most important intervention in the management of OA. Exercise builds muscle strength and endurance, improves joint flexibility and motion.
  • Arthritis Orthotics
  • Laser Therapy
  • Pulsed EMF (Electromagnetic field therapy)
  • Ultrasound
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Acupuncture
  • Diet and Nutrients
  • Herbal remedies
  • Vitamins/minerals
  • Pharmacological therapy – Drugs that can be bought at pharmacies and drugstores without a prescription, like aspirin and ibuprofen.
  • Lidocaine patch – A topical adhesive patch containing the local anesthetic lidocaine.

Surgical Treatment of Osteoarthritis

Surgical treatment of osteoarthritis is usually considered after a failure of non-surgical therapy options.

Total joint arthroplasty, the most surgically advanced in OA treatment, is the mainstay of surgical treatments. Other surgical procedures are: osteotomy, arthroscopy, arthrodesis and arthroplasty, and each has different indications and variable benefits.


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