Advanced osteoarthritis is a severe stage of the condition. This chronic joint disease develops over time, gradually causing joint degeneration and impairing standard joint function.

With the progression of osteoarthritis, individuals may experience worsening pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion, significantly affecting their daily activities and overall quality of life. As such, advanced osteoarthritis often necessitates comprehensive management approaches to relieve and restore functionality.

This article explores advanced osteoarthritis, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

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Osteoarthritis causes various symptoms, such as joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation. Advanced osteoarthritis is the severe stage of osteoarthritis, a progressive degenerative joint disease. It typically affects weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, and spine but can also affect the hands, neck, shoulders, and other joints.

The inflammation that occurs in advanced osteoarthritis can result in the destruction of cartilage.

There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but various treatment options can help manage symptoms.

Symptoms of advanced osteoarthritis can vary depending on the joints affected but typically include:

These symptoms can significantly affect an individual’s quality of life and ability to perform daily activities. As a result, they may also experience mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.

Some levels of joint discomfort and stiffness are typical in osteoarthritis. However, people should contact a doctor if their pain becomes severe, unmanageable, or increasingly intense despite self-care measures. This is particularly true if the pain interferes with daily activities or disturbs sleep.

Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis, doctors can help people manage their symptoms, and early intervention and proper management are critical. By seeking timely medical attention, a person can receive a comprehensive evaluation, personalized treatment plan, and supportive care to alleviate symptoms, improve joint function, and enhance their quality of life.

The progressive breakdown of joint cartilage causes osteoarthritis. It begins with the gradual degradation of the smooth and protective cartilage that covers the ends of bones in a joint. Cartilage usually provides a cushioning effect and allows smooth movement of the joint. However, in osteoarthritis, the cartilage becomes thinner, loses elasticity, and wears away.

As the cartilage deteriorates, the body attempts to repair the damage by forming new bone at the joint margins. These bony outgrowths, called osteophytes or bone spurs, develop in an attempt to stabilize the joint. However, they can also cause pain, further restrict joint movement, and trigger an inflammatory response in the joint.

As the cartilage continues to erode, the space between the bones in the joint narrows, leading to friction and rubbing between the bones. In addition, the affected joint may become unstable due to the loss of cartilage and structural changes in the joint.

Several factors contribute to the development and progression of osteoarthritis:

  • age
  • being assigned female at birth
  • previous joint injuries
  • joint overuse
  • obesity and overweight
  • genetics
  • joint misalignment

A combination of lifestyle changes and over-the-counter (OTC) medications can help individuals manage the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis. Doctors may recommend:

A doctor may prescribe stronger medications as the condition progresses and OTC remedies become less effective. These may include higher doses of NSAIDs, duloxetine, or corticosteroid injections directly into the affected joint.

Total joint replacement — replacing the damaged joint with one made of plastic and metal — is also a viable option for severe osteoarthritis cases. Osteotomy, a procedure to reshape and realign the bone, may also be possible.

The outlook for individuals with advanced osteoarthritis may vary depending on their symptoms and the joint affected. It may also depend on the individual’s response to treatment and their overall health.

While advanced osteoarthritis may present challenges and limitations, various treatments to manage symptoms and improve quality of life are available. In addition, regular follow-ups with healthcare professionals, treatment plan adherence, and a healthy lifestyle can contribute to long-term management and overall well-being.

Osteoarthritis results from using the joints, so it is not entirely possible to prevent the condition. Furthermore, osteoarthritis does not steadily worsen for most people and may not reach the advanced stage. Rather, some people may have alternating periods of joint pain and improved symptoms rather than gradually worsening symptoms.

However, some lifestyle changes may help slow the progression of osteoarthritis and prevent it from worsening. They include:

  • maintaining a moderate body weight
  • supporting the neck and back while sitting or sleeping
  • raising toilet seats and chairs
  • avoiding repetitive joint movements
  • getting regular exercise
  • preventing joint injuries

Advanced osteoarthritis is a progressive joint condition that causes pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. It is the breakdown of joint cartilage and can significantly affect a person’s quality of life.

Although there is no cure, treatment options, such as lifestyle modifications, medications, and surgery, can help ease symptoms. Furthermore, prevention strategies, including maintaining a moderate weight, exercising regularly, and protecting the joints, can help reduce the risk of developing advanced osteoarthritis.