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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsOsteoarthritis is a condition which is characterised by degeneration within the affected joint. It is a condition which is associated with ageing, but is not an inevitable consequence of ageing. If you have a family history of arthritis, you are more likely to develop osteoarthritis yourself. This model of a knee joint shows the normal cartilage lining the knee. And we can see it here in blue on both sides of the joint. In osteoarthritis, this cartilage becomes thinned as it becomes more damaged and eventually, in advanced osteoarthritis, we can see that there is degeneration of the cartilage lining the joint both on the thigh bone side and on the shinbone side.

Skip to 1 minute and 3 secondsThere is also damage to the bone that supports the cartilage in these two sides. Osteoarthritis affects around ten million people in the UK today, and costs the overall economy about £14 billion per year. The knee is the most common site of osteoarthritis, and affects something of the order of 25% of patients over 70 years of age. It affects about one in five patients over the year of 45, and every year in the United Kingdom around 100,000 patients undergo a knee replacement because their disease has become so severe that they need a definitive treatment for it.

Skip to 1 minute and 52 secondsThe cost of arthritis to the NHS alone each year is around £5 billion, which makes it the fourth largest NHS spend, and the cost of knee replacement alone each year is around half a billion pounds. Osteoarthritis is a condition which is associated with ageing, and it is also associated with obesity. Osteoarthritis of the knee does have some associations with certain types of occupations, occupations that are very heavy in their manual labour and occupations that involve a great deal of deep squatting and kneeling are associated with an increased risk of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis can also be associated with damage to joints. For example, following a previous break in the bone or the joint. This can result in a secondary pattern of osteoarthritis.

Skip to 2 minutes and 49 secondsThat is, osteoarthritis that has occurred as a late consequence of the injury. Osteoarthritis can also occur where the joint has not formed properly during development. An example of that would be developmental dysplasia of the hip. This condition is associated with a significantly increased risk of osteoarthritis in midlife. Osteoarthritis can also occur as a late consequence of infection in the joint. This is called septic arthritis, and it is common both in early childhood but can also occur in later life. Non-surgical treatments include maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle, reducing weight to being within the optimal body mass index range, physiotherapy and analgesics or pain killers.

Skip to 3 minutes and 44 secondsOther options, as the pain becomes more debilitating, include local anaesthetic and steroid injections, which can be administered into the joint and provide some relief from the discomfort but do not significantly have an impact on the natural history of the condition. And as the pain becomes more progressive, constant, and debilitating, then the treatment options become surgical ones. There are a range of surgical options that are available for the treatment of osteoarthritis, and these include realigning the joints so that it takes pressure off the joint and spreads it onto places in the joint where the arthritis cartilage is less severely affected, up through to joint replacement procedures where the whole of the damaged joint is removed and replaced with synthetic materials.

Skip to 4 minutes and 46 secondsAnd examples of these are - this is a knee replacement here - we can see that the end of the thigh bone has been replaced with metal, and so has the end of the shinbone. In between these two metal components there is a plastic element upon which they glide.

Ageing joints and osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a disease that affects the joints. Cartilage covering the ends of the bones gradually roughens and becomes thin, preventing the joint from moving as smoothly as it should. Whilst not an inevitable consequence of ageing, osteoarthritis is associated with ageing and usually starts from the late 40s onwards.

In this video, Mark Wilkinson, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Sheffield, and a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon in the NHS, discusses the causes and symptoms of osteoarthritis and explains some of the treatments that are available for this condition.

Do you know anybody that suffers from osteoarthritis? Is this a condition that you worry about?

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This video is from the free online course:

The Musculoskeletal System: the Science of Staying Active into Old Age

The University of Sheffield