Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent arthritis worldwide and is characterized by chronic pain and impaired physical function. OA is the joint condition which occurs when there is disruption of the surface cartilage and the underlying bone.
Considered for decades as a cartilage disease, OA is now be called an organ disease and the joint can be considered to be “an organ”. Just as a heart is an organ and heart disease describes the many ways the heart malfunctions. OA is bone-joint- inflammation. Up until recently, it was thought that this condition was caused by mechanical forces that increased joint loading. Advances in the understanding of cartilage cells(chondrocytes) and the synovial membrane as targets for inflammation suggests that multiple mechanisms especially inflammation are involved leading to the eventual disruption of the joint.
In the early stages of OA the articular cartilage thickens, cartilage cells, chondrocytes proliferate and the bone under the cartilage becomes dense but is lacking in minerals and there is an increase in bone marrow fat content.
There are strong associations between OA and hypertension, elevated cholesterol and blood glucose which suggests systemic and metabolic components are involved.
The risk of dying from cardiovascular disease increases with duration of knee and hip osteoarthritis. This is due to the reduced mobility caused by these conditions and can be reversed by finding alternate ways to maintain mobility.
The source of pain in OA is mostly unknown but there is evidence for peripheral and central sensitisation.
Can diet help with osteoarthritis? Many people find that making changes to their diet can help with osteoarthritis symptoms, which include pain, stiffness, and swelling. Some foods have anti-inflammatory capabilities which can help reduce symptoms while other foods may amplify them. How to eat an anti-inflammatory diet.
Being overweight can put extra pressure on the joints, and excess fat stores in the body can cause further inflammation. Maintaining a healthy weight can lessen the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Reducing weight by 10% has been demonstrated to decrease pain and improve function. Reducing weight can be difficult but it can be done with simple advice and some support.
In response to new information, innovative treatments are evolving.