Definition of the pathology
Osteoarthritis is a disease that affects the joints. Also called chronic degenerative arthropathy, it is characterized by mechanical daytime pain and difficulty in performing joint movements. At the joint level, the cartilage surface cracks, crumbles, and eventually disappears. Bony outgrowths form and then impair movement.
Osteoarthritis translates to the degeneration of joint cartilage without any particular infection or inflammation. This degeneration leads to a more or less rapid destruction of the cartilage that surrounds the ends of the bones. This destruction is accompanied by a proliferation of bone under the cartilage.
It is the most frequent joint disease and it occurs earlier and earlier in life. The first symptoms usually appear beginning at 40-50 years of age, but the disease often begins much earlier.
Osteoarthritis affects each individual differently. The affected joints and intensity of pain vary from one person to another:
- Joint pain that occurs mainly during movement
- Joint sensitivity when applying slight pressure
- Joint stiffness, especially when waking up or after a period of immobility. Morning stiffness lasts less than 30 minutes
- A progressive loss of flexibility in the joint
- Joint discomfort as a result of changes in temperature
- “Cracking,” especially in the case of osteoarthritis of the knee
- Gradual emergence of small bone outgrowths (osteophytes) at the joint
- More rarely, inflammation (redness, pain, and swelling of the joint)
Osteoarthritis currently benefits only from treatment of symptoms. Care is focused on reducing pain. In the case of bone destruction, surgery allows for joint replacements to be put in place. Non-drug treatments reduce the pain.