What Is Osteoarthritis, and Will I Need Joint Replacement Surgery?

knee osteoarthritis

If debilitating joint pain is impacting your ability to live normally, you may have a condition called osteoarthritis. While osteoarthritis can cause mild but tolerable joint pain in its early onset, it can become so severe that joint replacement surgery is required.

While there is no cure for the disease, symptoms can be managed through medication and lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, changing your daily activities, and preventing mineral deficiencies. Joint replacement surgery is also an option for severe cases to reduce your pain and help you return to your normal life. Find out “What is osteoarthritis?” and how to know if you need surgery below.

What Is Osteoarthritis?

You’ve likely heard of arthritis, a common condition that refers to joint inflammation. Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that can be described as ‘wear and tear’ arthritis. It occurs when cartilage in the affected joint starts to break down. Cartilage is a rubbery material found at the end of the bone, and it reduces friction and acts as a ‘shock absorber’ to protect your joints.

When cartilage deteriorates, the joint will feel stiff, painful, and be more susceptible to damage. In severe cases, the bones can rub against each other and cause significant pain. Osteoarthritis typically occurs in weight-bearing joints, such as the knees, hip, and spine. Other affected joints include fingers, the neck, and the big toe.

Osteoarthritis is common in men and women over the age of 60. Women over 50 are also more prone to developing osteoarthritis. While the disease commonly affects seniors, young adults can also develop osteoarthritis as a result of a joint injury or joint stress from repetitive movements.

What Are the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis develops over time. Your symptoms may initially be mild and worsen as the disease progresses. It’s important to see your doctor as soon as you feel mild symptoms that you suspect may be osteoarthritis, as early treatment may prevent the need for joint replacement surgery. However, early osteoarthritis often goes undetected as people assume their achy joints are a normal part of aging.

Symptoms of this degenerative joint disease include:

  • Joint aches and pain when moving normally
  • Stiffness or pain after resting
  • Pain when exercising or lifting or carrying things
  • Joint swelling
  • When fingers are affected, you may notice bony enlargements near the middle or end of the finger

What Causes Osteoarthritis?

  • Obesity: Carrying excess weight is stressful for your joints, resulting in more wear and tear. Obesity can also speed-up the progression of mild osteoarthritis. If you need to lose a significant amount of weight, weight loss surgery may be a suitable choice to help you lose weight safely and reduce pressure on your joints. For this reason, losing weight may prevent the need for hip replacement surgery or knee replacement surgery in the future.
  • Overuse: Repetitive movements over a period of time can increase your risk of osteoarthritis. For example people who work in warehouses, factories, and manufacturing are more at risk due to frequent bending and lifting.
  • Injury: A joint injury can increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis. For example, athletes and dancers who experience a knee injury may develop knee osteoarthritis, which could result in eventually needing knee replacement surgery. Similarly, people who suffer from a hip fracture have a much higher risk of hip osteoarthritis and may need hip replacement surgery.
  • Genetics: Some people with osteoarthritis may be genetically predisposed to have weaker or defective cartilage, which results in quicker cartilage deterioration. Genetic joint abnormalities or defects can also increase the risk.
  • A related condition: Having another form of arthritis can increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis. There are also other rare conditions, such as mineral imbalances (deficiency or excess) or hormonal disorders that can increase the risk.

Receive Expedited Healthcare at Surgical Solutions Network

You don’t need to live with joint pain while waiting for your surgery. You can end your joint pain with rapid access to private joint replacement surgeries at Surgical Solutions Network. Our private healthcare clinics in Toronto and Calgary offer full access to expedited joint replacement surgery, so you can return to your normal life sooner.

Learn more about our advanced surgical centres across Canada and [link pid="94"]contact us today to arrange a consultation.

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