In 2013, 1 out of every 9 people in Alberta had osteoarthritis (OA). In the next 30 years, there could be over 10 million people in Canada with OA. This is mainly because:
Learning more about your condition and taking an active part in your treatment are important. This information will help you understand your OA better and learn what you can do to manage it.
Arthritis is a disease of the
joints (the areas where 2 bones meet). It often causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in your joints. It’s called a chronic disease because it doesn’t go away and a progressive disease because it can get worse. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis.
OA affects each person differently. Some have a lot of symptoms and joint changes, others don’t. OA can affect any joint, but it most commonly affects joints in your:
OA happens when cartilage (tough elastic material that covers and protects the ends of bones) breaks down faster than your body rebuilds it. As cartilage breaks down, your bones rub together and damage your joint .
How osteoarthritis can damage joints. Credit: Healthwise, Incorporated
This damage can cause pain, because bones contain nerves. Sometimes little bony growths, or spurs, develop on the ends of the bones.
OA causes swelling of your the joint capsule (tissue that encloses your joint) and ligaments (tough bands of flexible tissue that help hold your joint together). This swelling causes them to stretch. If this happens, the ligaments don’t go back to their original length. This can cause the joint to become unstable. You may hear your joints click, crunch, or crack.
Swelling and extra fluid in your joint can make it feel stiff and painful. Over time, the cartilage begins to fray and may even wear away entirely, causing your bones to rub against each other.
You can have OA in one joint or more than one. You may have some of the following symptoms:
To know if you have OA, your healthcare provider will examine you, ask you about your symptoms, and talk to you about your risk factors for OA. Most people
don’t need an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or x-rays to diagnose OA.
Here are some of the risk factors for OA:
Current as of: October 2, 2020
Author: Bone & Joint Health Strategic Clinical Network, AHS
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