Osteoarthritis (OA or Degenerative Arthritis)

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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Quick GuideOsteoarthritis (OA): Treatment, Symptoms, Diagnosis

Osteoarthritis (OA): Treatment, Symptoms, Diagnosis

What is the prognosis for patients with osteoarthritis?

The prognosis of patients with osteoarthritis depends on which joints are affected and whether or not they are causing symptoms and impaired function. Some patients are unaffected by osteoarthritis while others can be severely disabled. Joint replacement surgery for some results in the best long-term outcome. Finally, if one is concerned that osteoarthritis could be lead to injury of the internal organs, don't be. Osteoarthritis does not cause internal organ damage or blood -test abnormalities.

Is it possible to prevent osteoarthritis?

There is no prevention of osteoarthritis with the exception of avoiding joint injury.

What specialists treat osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is treated by general practitioners, family practitioners, internists, orthopedists, rheumatologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, orthotists, physiatrists, and other rehabilitation specialists.

What does the future hold for osteoarthritis?

In the future, medications may be available that protect the cartilage from the deteriorating consequences of osteoarthritis. Research into cartilage biology will eventually lead to new and exciting breakthroughs in the management of osteoarthritis.

Surgical innovation has led to a technique for the repair of isolated splits of cartilage (fissures) of the knee. In this procedure, a patient's own cartilage is actually grown in the laboratory, then inserted into the fissure area and sealed over with a "patch" of the patient's own bone covering the tissue. While this is not a procedure for the cartilage damage of osteoarthritis, it does open the door for future cartilage research. These and other developing areas hold promise for new approaches to an old problem.

Investigators at the National Institutes of Health have found that taking glucosamine did not significantly improve symptoms of osteoarthritis compared to placebo. Studies are under way to look at whether some glucosamine formulations may have advantages over others.

Research scientists have found that doxycycline, a tetracycline drug, has been shown to slow the progression of cartilage degeneration in the knees of patients with osteoarthritis. This effect seems to be a result of the drug's effect on enzymes that destroy cartilage rather than on their properties as antibiotics. More studies are needed to determine the significance of this interesting work.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/19/2015

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