The commonest form of arthritis, Osteoarthritis (OA) can start to be troublesome from the mid – to late 30’s in some predisposed individuals, notably footballers or other sportsmen and women who place excessive strain through certain joints. People in occupations which traditionally exerted stress through joints by carrying heavy loads – such as manual labourers and coalminers – would get arthritis in their knees at an early age. Today, we see osteoarthritis developing using after the mid-50’s, with the joints in the fingers, knees, hips, neck and low back being the commonest ones involved. If your parents developed knee arthritis, or if you are overweight, you are at increased risk of arthritis yourself.
The management of OA includes advice on simple pain killers, exercise (including various forms of physical therapies, osteopathy etc.), footwear, aids and adaptations, but only in a small percentage of cases is surgery required. There are no drugs which are currently known to alter the progress of the disease (in the same way that there are medications for inflammatory arthritis) but sometimes a joint injection with steroid and anaesthetic, or a solution which mimics the natural lubrication of the joint, can be very effective.