Why Does Osteoarthritis Occur, Can It be Prevented?

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Why Does Osteoarthritis Occur, Can It be Prevented?

Hello, I am Dr. Uday Meghnathi (M.S. Orthopaedics) from Janvi hospital and there is a reason why I am writing to you today.

Yesterday it pained me a lot to see a patient in my clinic barely in his late 40’s suffering from an orthopaedic degenerative disease – osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis has been affecting 15 million adults annually with a prevalence ranging from 22% to 39% in India. This motivated me to write to you before you land in similar circumstances.

Are you also experiencing pain or swelling in joints, crackling sound in joints when you move or stiffness and tenderness in joints?

I sincerely hope you are nodding your head to say ‘NO’ but in case you are nodding it to say ‘YES’ then my friend, it’s time to visit an orthopaedic hospital at the earliest.

I have seen a rise in the number of patients having degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis in the last one and a half years. This might be because of the sedentary lifestyle that we were forced to adapt owing to the pandemic.

According to WHO;

“Sedentary lifestyles increase all causes of mortality, double the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity, and increase the risks of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression and anxiety. According to WHO, 60 to 85% of people in the world—from both developed and developing countries—lead sedentary lifestyles, making it one of the more serious yet insufficiently addressed public health problems of our time. It is estimated that nearly two-thirds of children are also insufficiently active, with serious implications for their future health.”

The question must be lingering in your mind regarding ‘what is a degenerative disease?’ and ‘How is Osteoarthritis a degenerative disease?’ I know the medical jargon is difficult for a layman to digest. In simple terms, degenerative disease is a disease in which the tissues get affected. They cannot be repaired or cured. Although we give medicines to make you feel relaxed, the cure is difficult. Now, do you understand the gravity of the problem?

Wikipedia lists degenerative diseases one of them is osteoarthritis, an orthopaedic problem.

The various forms of degenerative diseases that are common today are :

Neurodegenerative diseases

The above image shows the clear distinction between a healthy brain and a brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Due to the death of neurons the brain shrinks. The various types of Neurodegenerative diseases are:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • multiple sclerosis,
  • Batten disease.


A patient is diagnosed with cancer if we find malignant growth of cells. That’s the reason why even the minutest part of your body that is removed by the operation is sent for a biopsy. Biopsy reveals the growth of cells and their nature.

There are many types of cancers in humans due to factors such as:

  • Lifestyle factors
  • Radiation
  • Infection due to viruses

Cancers fall in the category of degenerative diseases because the cancerous growth of one cell affects the function of other cells. To give you a metaphor, it is like one student disturbing the whole class.

Coronary artery disease

In coronary occlusion, there is the partial or complete obstruction of blood flow in a coronary artery, leading to a heart attack.

Macular degeneration

As the name indicates, it is caused due to muscle damage. It can lead to vision loss or blindness at times. The risk factors are:
  • Genetic factors
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of physical activities
  • Smoking


This condition causes the bones to be porous and prone to breakages.


Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition that affects the joints of the body. It deals with orthopaedics Mostly it occurs due to age. You must have heard people say that the bones are rugged off…

In clinical terms, Osteoarthritis happens when the protective tissue protecting the bone breaks down. This protective tissue is known as cartilage. Due to this feature, it falls in the category of degenerative diseases.

What will happen if there is no oil in the vehicle, it will damage the engine. Similarly, when cartilage breaks it causes the bones to rub together as a result of which the damage occurs.

This friction of bones causes inflammation of joints. You might be thinking, as to what causes the breakage of the cartilage? It happens due to:

  • Accidents
  • Trauma
  • Improper exercise
  • Obesity
  • Medications
  • Lack of proper nutrition
  • Joint instability
  • Hormonal changes
  • Age and genes

Relapsing polychondritis can destroy the cartilage tissues in our bodies. It is one type of autoimmune disease. The body’s immune system itself begins to attack and destroy the cartilage tissues in the body.

You might be wondering, how can exercising cause damage? Well, improper stretching or weight lifting exercises can cause damage. We have the best examples of the Bollywood celebrities like Bipasa Basu and Shah Rukh Khan who are suffering from this disease due to harsh workouts.

So next time you plan a workout, do it with caution.

There are various bones that osteoarthritis targets in our body.

Types of osteoarthritis depending on which bone it affects

Osteoarthritis in hands

As you can see from the above image, it mainly attacks the fingers. The tips, middle knuckles, the connecting joints, the joints connecting the wrist. The probable symptoms are:

  • Stiffness in wrist
  • Pain in fingers or wrist
  • Swelling on fingers
  • Redness of hands
  • Weakness (specifically while holding things)
  • Trouble and pain moving your fingers
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Crackling sound when you move your fingers

Osteoarthritis in hips

Osteoarthritis can occur in one or both of the hips. Although it cannot be cured by surgery we can make it bearable. There are other medications too that help to provide symptomatic treatment.

Osteoarthritis in knees

Knee osteoarthritis can occur in one or both of the knees. Sports that require repetitive motion like running, long jump, or any sport that requires you to run constantly is prone to this risk.

The other risk factors are age factor, knee injury or genetics

Osteoarthritis knee braces can be used to give symptomatic relief.

Cervical osteoarthritis

It is also called cervical spondylosis. It is vastly seen in aged people. But as a caution people working on laptops or computers the whole day should take breaks in between and relax the spine.

The symptoms include:

  • Stiffness in neck
  • Numbness in hands or fingers
  • Numbness in legs
  • Pain in shoulder

Spinal osteoarthritis

Unlike Osteoarthritis in the knees which affects overly active sportsmen, osteoarthritis in the Spine affects those who are seated in one place. People who have sedentary lifestyles or obese are at risk.

The symptoms are:

  • Stiffness or tenderness in the joints in your back
  • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in your arms or legs
  • Reduced range of motion associated with pain

How can you prevent osteoarthritis?

Certain risk factors are genetic and you cannot shun away from them. But other factors can help you to avoid osteoarthritis.

  • Take care while you exercise and do not put too much pressure on the same body part every time.
  • Eat lots of fruits and a healthy diet.
  • Keep your weight under control
  • Don’t sit for the whole day in front of your computers, do some activity.
  • Allow your body to take rest, sleep.

If you have any of the symptoms then your X-ray or MRI can reveal it. Delay can be dangerous. Would love to hear from you, in case you have any concerns.

Why should you not neglect symptoms of Osteoarthritis?

Imagine that you have a cut on your finger, won’t you avoid using it in the things that you do? It will create pain in surrounding areas if it remains static for a while.

The same is the case with osteoarthritis, although it won’t directly affect the other body parts it will hinder your movements and thereby alter the way you walk or do things. In the long run, this can have an adverse effect.

Author Biodata: Dr. Uday Meghnathi is a consultant orthopedic trauma and joint replacement surgeon in Vadodara. He has completed his M.B.B.S. and M.S. Orthopaedics from Baroda Medical College, SSG Hospital, M.S. University, Vadodara.

He has vast surgical experience in various traumatic surgeries including complex joint surgeries and pelvis & acetabular surgeries.

He is doing thriving practice for the management of orthopaedic problems like Neck Pain, Frozen Shoulder, Tennis Elbow, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Back Pain, Hip Pain, Knee Pain, Osteoarthritis of Knee, Heel Pain, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Gout, etc.

Contact for all your orthopaedic problems and emergencies.


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