Do I have arthritis?

Do I have Osteoarthritis?

GPs often diagnose joint pain as arthritis. Often they are correct – we’re not challenging our medical colleagues on that! However, even members of the public assume that if your joints ache then they have osteoarthritis.

What actually is it?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is bony destruction and cartilage loss that is more than is expected with age. The cartilage roughens and thins and the body responds by toughening the underlying bone and sometimes creates bony hooks called osteophytes which pinch into soft tissue. As the body tries to repair the joint, it swells with inflammatory repair cells. The swelling if it stays long enough eventually inhibits muscles from working so they weaken loading the joint even more.
The cause is largely due to obesity, age and previous joint injuries. Genetics have some influence on this but only in some types of OA.

How is it diagnosed?

There is no blood test for it. The diagnosis is largely made up from the presentation of the client, whether there is a characteristic pattern of deformity or pain and of course X-ray. There must be X ray evidence of OA to diagnose it. However, it cannot predict how much pain you have. Sometimes, very arthritic joints don’t hurt. It depends on a number of other factors like weight, pain threshold etc.

So my joints hurt, should I be worried?

No. It doesn’t mean that you have arthritis. Especially if you are under 50, the chances are slim. The best to do is to contact your GP or physiotherapist and they will assess your joints and will work out the cause of your pain.

Email us if you have some concerns.

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