Different types of osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is an illness that affects different joints: the hands, the fingers, the hip etc.


The different types of osteoarthritis are distinguished between by their location: 
Osteoarthritis of the vertebral column is the most common form and is often “silent” or asymptomatic. It is primarily located at either end of the spine: in the cervical vertebrae of the neck/upper back or the lumbar vertebrae in the lower back. 
In the cervical vertebrae, the pain is primarily expressed in the neck in this type of osteoarthritis. This is a region that is highly susceptible to osteoarthritis, because it is the most mobile. Osteoarthritis of the lumbar vertebrae manifests either on both sides or just one side of the column. It can be felt when changing positions when lying down. 
Osteoarthritis of the hand may even lead to a deformation of the fingers. This very frequently has a hereditary aspect. 
There are three different types of osteoarthritis of the hands.
- Osteoarthritis of the wrist primarily develops following trauma. A fracture or a sprain in adolescence may flare up again in later years and cause pain 
- Osteoarthritis of the thumb is located at the base of the thumb. It is particularly common in women. It causes pain during simple movements and causes clumsiness and difficulties in gripping objects. Without treatment, deformations could possibly appear;
- Osteoarthritis of the other fingers (digital osteoarthritis) is most common in post-menopausal women. The joints affected are the phalanges joints. This type of osteoarthritis is characterised by pain and deformations, known as nodosities.


Osteoarthritis of the hip, also known as coxarthrosis, affects men and women equally. The destruction of the cartilage takes place right at cotyla level (bone cavity where the femur is located) or the level of the head of the femur. This may become highly debilitating
The pain is experienced in the front of the thigh at groin level, and can spread down to knee level. At an advanced stage and if no treatment is given, the movements of this joint can become more and more limited and painful. The appearance of osteoarthritis can be slowed down by practising gentle exercise. 
In the long term, a full prosthetic hip may be inserted instead of the head of the femur and the acetabulum. The results of this operation are excellent and very good results have been observed after rehabilitation sessions. 
Knee osteoarthritis, also known as gonarthrosis, is also highly common. It can be located in two different places: the joint between the femur and the kneecap (patellofemoral osteoarthritis), or even the joint between the femur and the tibia (femorotibial osteoarthritis). Femorotibial osteoarthritis, the most common form of osteoarthritis of the knee, causes less discomfort and can flare up when walking down stairs or when standing for prolonged periods. In younger people, this form of osteoarthritis is often the result of a knee abnormality with repeated dislocations of the kneecap. The doctor and the physiotherapist attempt to stabilise the joint by strengthening the quadriceps (thigh muscle). 
The most common form of gonarthrosis in women is between the tibia and the femur, caused by the poor position of the legs (legs arching inwards or outwards). 

Last updated: 14/01/2017

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