Osteoarthritis: stop and treat joint wear and tear

This text provides information in simple language on the topic: osteoarthritis

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a joint disease. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the joint wears off. A joint is made up of two bones. The bones move along each other. Between the bones is cartilage and synovial fluid. They serve as protection: So the two bones do not rub against each other.

Healthy joint with smooth cartilage (blue)

© W & B / Martina Ibelherr

With osteoarthritis, the cartilage becomes thinner and thinner. Then the two bones rub against each other too much. The affected joint wears out. This wear and tear on the joint can lead to pain. Often the joint can then no longer move as easily.

The bone is more stressed. That is why it grows in some places. This is shown by the red arrows

© W & B / Martina Ibelherr

Advanced osteoarthritis: the cartilage is heavily worn and very thin. In some places between the two bones there is no cartilage at all. There the bones rub against each other

Osteoarthritis can occur in all joints. Osteoarthritis often occurs in these joints:

  • knee
  • hip
  • shoulder
  • hands
  • finger

How can you recognize osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis can show different signs. The signs of osteoarthritis may be weak at first. But over time, the signs increase. Signs of osteoarthritis can include:

  • The joint hurts when put under strain.
  • The joint does not move for a while. Then the joint moves again and it hurts? This is also called: starting pain. Start-up pain is particularly common in the leg joint. Start-up pain can also occur in the ankle.
  • The osteoarthritis is already well advanced? Then pain occurs even with slight movements. The joint can hurt even when it is at rest. Affected people can often not move well in everyday life.
  • The joint is inflamed? Then it often gets fat too. The joint then looks bigger than normal.
  • With osteoarthritis of the finger joints, the hands hurt: the affected joints feel stiff. Affected people often no longer have any strength in their hands. Hard thickenings can occur on the affected areas.

Have you noticed one or more of these signs? Then go to the doctor. The doctor will examine you and give you all the important information. Sometimes affected people do not notice any signs for a very long time. It's different for every person.

What types of osteoarthritis are there?

Osteoarthritis can occur in all joints. Osteoarthritis can occur more often in some joints. These joints are particularly stressed. Such common forms of osteoarthritis are for example:

  • Arthrosis of the wrists and fingers
  • Osteoarthritis of the hip joint
  • Osteoarthritis of the knee joint

What are the causes of osteoarthritis?

In many cases one does not know: What are the causes of osteoarthritis? Possible causes of osteoarthritis can be:

  • incorrect loads on a joint
  • Obesity
  • other diseases such as gout or rheumatism
  • Injuries to the affected joint

How does osteoarthritis work?

Osteoarthritis develops slowly and in different stages:

Stage 1: The cartilage becomes thinner. Affected people have little or no pain.

Stage 2: The cartilage on the joint is damaged. The cartilage is less able to distribute the pressure from the joints rubbing against each other. Affected people experience the first pain.

Stage 3: The cartilage is now badly damaged. Therefore, the distance between the bones becomes smaller. The stress on the joint increases. Excesses can form on the bone. The joint is less mobile and it can become inflamed.

Stage 4: The cartilage is now very thin. The bones rub directly against each other. There are bony outgrowths at this point. Affected people often have severe pain and the joint is stiff.

What can you do if you have osteoarthritis?

If you have osteoarthritis, you should consider a few things:

  • Do not overexert the affected joints. Do not put improper stress on the joint. A physiotherapist can show you: This is how you can relieve the joints.
  • Improve the mobility of the affected joints.

Are you in severe pain? Then maybe medication for the pain can help.

Note: Always talk to your doctor before taking any medication. He gives you all the important information.

Where can you get more information?

Would you like to read more about osteoarthritis? You can find more information about osteoarthritis here. Attention: This link leads out of our simple language offer. The information is then no longer in plain language.

Attention: This text only contains general information. The text does not replace a visit to the doctor. Only a doctor can give you accurate information. Are you feeling sick? Or do you have questions about an illness? Then you should always see a doctor.

We wrote the texts together with the Light Language Research Center. The light language research center is at the University of Hildesheim.