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What is Osteoarthritis?

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis-- by Wong Mun Yew, Joshua, Guardian Senior Patient Care Pharmacist

What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease where the cartilage in joints wears down over time. Any joint could be affected, but in most cases, OA usually occurs in the joints on the hands, knees, hips, lower spine or neck.

What are the symptoms of OA?
The most common OA symptoms include pain, tenderness at the joint area, stiffness in the morning or after resting for long hours, and a creaking feeling at the joints. These symptoms occur slowly and worsen with time. As the condition gets more severe, bone protrusions around the joint area may form.

How is OA managed?
There is currently no cure for OA, but treatment options are available to relieve the pain and swelling in order to improve the quality of life. Over-the-counter pain relief creams and hot/cold packs can be used to relieve minor aches, with paracetamol being the most common painkiller recommended for aches related to OA. If both swelling and pain are present, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium are the next line of medication that can be obtained from a pharmacist. For people who cannot tolerate the side effects of NSAIDs, other prescription-only painkillers (e.g. tramadol) may be recommended by doctors as an alternative treatment option.


Steroid injections might be used to relieve pain in the joints; however this medication should be used with caution as overuse may cause joint damage. Surgery in the form of artificial joint replacement is often the last resort for those with severely damaged joints.

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