Osteoarthritis (AO) of the Peripheral Joint is a disease that can cause pain and stiffness in the joints (i.e., lower back, hips, knees, etc.). The ends of the bones in normal joints are covered with smooth cartilage, which provides protection to these bones. Joints also contain a fluid called synovial fluid, which acts as a cushion or "shock absorber" and lubricates the joint.
In people with OA, the synovial fluid becomes thinner and loses its elasticity and ability to provide a good cushion. For this and other reasons, the cartilage covering the ends of the bones begins to break down and wear away, sometimes enough to expose the bones themselves. OA may be caused by many factors, including:
Diagnosis: At times, pain that radiates from the back to the knee or hip may in fact be a joint problem, such as OA. Further workup should be done to try to rule out this source of pain.
Symptoms: The main symptom of OA is pain. The patient may feel pain during movement and even at rest. The joints may also be stiff and swollen, and there may be a loss of range of movement in the joint. The symptoms of OA may interfere with normal activities, such as walking and dressing, and they may also disrupt sleep.
OA can affect any joint. It commonly occurs in the knees, hips, and spine. For example, if you have osteoarthritis of the knee, you may feel tenderness in the knee area and pain during movement of the knee. You may also feel a "grating" or "catching" sensation in the joint during movement. The large muscles around your knee will become weaker with time, if pain prevents you from moving or exercising the leg.
Treatment: The symptoms of OA are treatable, especially in the early stages of the disease. There are different therapies available to help reduce or eliminate the pain associated with OA. One such option is synthetic synovial solutions such as Hyalgan.
For more information about spine related conditions and treatments, visit the UCLA Spine Center at at spinecenter.ucla.edu.