Osteoarthritis in Africa: Symptoms, Treatments, and Causes


Osteoarthritis in Africa: Symptoms, Treatments, and Causes

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It is a degenerative chronic condition that wears out joints' cartilages(slippery protective tissues covering bones' endings at the Joints).

Cartilages serves to cushion bones' endings at the joints from friction. It can affect any joint however it commonly affects joints at the hands, knees,hips and the spine.

The difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis

Osteoarthritis is a wear and tear condition whereas rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmunity condition, there is no morning stiffness in osteoarthritis but in case it is experienced it doesn't last more than thirty minutes.

However morning stiffness is a common feature in rheumatoid arthritis, pain gets worse with increased usage of the affected joint in osteoarthritis; however there is no marked relationship of pain with activity in rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis affects joints randomly whereas rheumatoid arthritis affects joints symmetrically(parallel to each other).

Symptoms of osteoarthritis

Some of the symptoms at the affected joint/joints include pain, stiffness, swelling, tenderness, cracking sounds/grating sensation on movement.

Risk factors for osteoarthritis

Older age, sex(females are more predisposed), congenital joints/bones deformities, obesity, joints injuries, genetics(people with a positive osteoarthritis family history are more predisposed), persistent stress to a certain joint/joints due to activities.

Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis

Mostly made by taking a patient's history and examining him/her.Lab diagnostic tests are normally not essential however they may be conducted to rule out other inflammatory conditions.

Imaging e.g X-ray or MRI may also be done to rule out other possible related conditions or to determine the extent of the damage.

Treatment of Osteoarthritis 

There are several modalities of treatment. The choice of treatment will be determined by the patient's state/the disease level.

They include- medical(e.g corticosteroids and nonsteroidal agents), surgical repair in extreme joint damage and lifestyle/conservative management(e.g non aggressive exercises, balanced diet, physiotherapy & assistive devices such as crutches).

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