By taking this short, interactive lesson, you will learn the answers to the following questions:
- How common is OA of the hip and knee?
- Is it a normal part of aging?
- How can you best manage the symptoms of OA with a lifestyle plan that includes exercise?
- What kinds of exercises and physical activities should you be doing?
- What role does managing your weight play in an effective self-management plan?
Osteoarthritis is a condition that affects our joints, causing pain, swelling, and/or stiffness. We have joints throughout our bodies. They are the places where bones meet so you can bend and move. Knees, hip, and hands are the joints most commonly affected by this type of arthritis.
It is sometimes called degenerative joint disease. This kind of arthritis wears away the cartilage that covers the ends of each bone in a knee or hip, so it is often described as a "wear and tear" disease.
The job of the cartilage is to act as a cushion between the bones and to join tissue together in the knee or hip. If you have osteoarthritis, the cartilage or cushion becomes rough and might even wear away altogether. The bones then rub against one another, causing pain and slowing down or stopping movement such as walking, climbing stairs, and bending down. Sometimes, you may hear a grating sound when the bones rub together. You may also experience stiffness and swelling around a joint. Currently, there is no cure for osteoarthritis. Drug treatments have only modest benefits on pain and function, with significant potential side effects.
How do you know if you have it?If you have persistent pain, aching, or stiffness of your knees or hips when you move them that is not a result of a recent injury, then you should see your health care professional for an assessment. Osteoarthritis tends to get worse with time and can make it challenging to perform day-to-day activities as we age.
To make a diagnosis, your health care provider will take a history asking about your symptoms and give you a physical exam. Generally, if you are 40 years or older, you won’t need an x-ray or other types of imaging to confirm a diagnosis.