Arthritis (2): Osteoarthritis

Although Rheumatoid arthritis is quite popular, it is actually not the most common type of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type, but unlike Rheumatoid arthritis; it is not an autoimmune condition.

There are two major forms of Osteoarthritis

Primary osteoarthritis and secondary osteoarthritis.

Primary osteoarthritis
There is no exact known cause, but there have been some identified risk factors associated with it.

These include:

  • Older age, although some young adults can develop the condition.
  • Obesity (the heavy weight puts pressure on the joints, thereby increasing the stress placed on the joints)
  • Female gender
  • Heredity

Secondary osteoarthritis
This is as a result of another medical condition leading to it.

These include;
1. Infection (joint infection, sexually transmitted diseases e.g. chlamydia and/or food poisoning).

2. Severe injury to the joint

3. Birth defects which involve bones and or joints (scoliosis, hip dysplasia etc.)

4. Weakness of the muscles which surround and support the joints (This leads to increased work on the joints, causing a wear and tear of the joints)

5. Underlying conditions (rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriasis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease etc.)

1. Increased pain and joint stiffness after not moving your joints for a while.

N.B. this differs from rheumatoid arthritis in the sense that the joint stiffness disappears after a short while, unlike the latter which lasts for a longer time.

2. Joint swelling

3. Grating, rubbing feeling when you move the joint

4. Decreased mobility of the joint

If you experience one or more of these symptoms, you can visit the doctor (GP) for a definitive diagnosis.

Below are commonly what your GP will test and examine you for:

-Joint pain that increases the longer you move your joint

-Stiffness in the joint that doesn’t last long (usually less than 30 mins), or in some cases no stiffness, just pain
Joint swelling, tenderness


-Blood test, to rule out other conditions, e.g. rheumatoid arthritis

There is also no exact cure for the condition, but there are good treatments that can help prevent the degeneration of the joints.

They are:

  • Life style changes: Exercise to strengthen your muscles, weight loss
  • Pain medication
  • Proper treatment of any underlying disease or birth defects that can affect the joints as well as infections.
  • Physiotherapy treatments (please see an actual physiotherapist.

(Do not google physiotherapy treatments and exercises)

The physiotherapist knows better and will tailor the treatment according to your individual need.


Dr. Onyedumekwu Thelma, M.D.

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