Osteoarthritis is a very common condition which can affect any joint in the body. It’s most likely to affect the joints that bear most of our weight, such as the hips, knees and feet or joints that we use a lot of the time such as the thumb. Almost all of us will develop osteoarthritis in some of our joints as we get older, though we may not even be aware of it.
In a healthy joint, a coating of tough but smooth and slippery tissue, called cartilage, helps the bones to move freely against each other. In osteoarthritis the cartilage thins and becomes less slippery, and the joint doesn’t move as smoothly as it should. The body tries to repair and this often allows the joint to work normally and without pain and stiffness. However, sometimes after an injury to the joint, a change in activity or occasionally spontaneously, changes to the joint structure (cartilage surface), can create an inflammatory process which results in symptoms such as pain, swelling or difficulty in moving the joint normally.
These are resources that you can visit to learn more:
Health professionals diagnose osteoarthritis clinically without investigations if you are:
45 or over AND have activity-related joint pain AND have either no morning joint-related stiffness or morning stiffness that lasts no longer than 30 minutes. X rays will sometimes be recommended if you are considering surgery or injection therapy.
There is no role for MRI scans in osteoarthritis.
Although there’s no cure for osteoarthritis yet, there are many treatments that can provide relief from the symptoms and allow you to get on with your life. By choosing to engage in core treatments you can often successfully manage your osteoarthritis without the need for medical treatments.
Core treatments are things that should be considered by everyone with osteoarthritis:
Advanced treatments involve engaging with one or more of our specialist therapists:
At Cardiff and Vale, we are committed to providing a high value service through holistic assessment taking into account your individual needs and preferences to help you manage your arthritis. Regulatory bodies such NICE and international societies such as OARSI and EULAR have created guidelines which we aim to deliver on.
If you are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or struggling to cope please contact your GP who may refer you to the relevant healthcare professional.