Secondary osteoarthritis: What is it?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a type of arthritis in which joint cartilage breaks down. There is no known cause of primary OA. Secondary OA, on the other hand, develops as a result of a pre-existing medical condition, joint injury, or abnormality.

Although primary and secondary OA are the same condition, they are caused by different causes.

OA can affect any joint in the body, causing pain, stiffness, and a restricted range of motion.

The symptoms and causes of secondary OA are discussed in this article. We also talk about treatment choices and the outlook for people who have the condition.

What is osteoarthritis (OA)?

Osteoarthritis (OA)

OA is the most common type of arthritis, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), and it typically affects elderly people.

OA is a joint condition in which the cartilage in the joints breaks down. It can occur in every joint of the body, however it most commonly affects the:

  • lower back
  • knees
  • fingers
  • hips
  • neck

According to the NIAMS, OA symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include:

  • limited range of motion in the affected joint
  • a loose or unstable-feeling joint
  • swelling around the joint, which may worsen after activities that require using that joint
  • joint pain, which may get worse at night
  • stiff joints, which may occur after periods of rest or after sleeping

Primary vs. secondary OA

People with OA might have either primary or secondary OA. The symptoms of these illnesses are the same, but the causes are not.

There is no known cause of primary OA. Secondary OA, on the other hand, comes as a result of an existing medical condition, abnormalities, infection, or injury.

Causes

Secondary OA can be caused by a variety of causes, including:

  • hemoglobinopathies, which are conditions affecting red blood cells
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • Marfan syndrome
  • inflammatory arthritis
  • an existing joint abnormality
  • injury or trauma to the joint
  • metabolic disorders
  • a joint condition present from birth
  • infectious arthritis
  • osteoporosis
  • osteochondritis dissecans, where bone underneath joint cartilage dies due to a lack of blood supply
  • Paget’s disease
  • avascular necrosis, where bone tissue dies from a lack of blood supply

Treatment

Secondary OA treatment seeks to alleviate pain, reduce stiffness, and improve range of motion and joint function. It may also assist to keep the condition from worsening.

Among the treatment options are:

Exercise

According to research, combining aerobic and resistance activities can help reduce pain and enhance physical function.

Exercise can also assist to build muscle, enhance endurance, and increase flexibility. An OA workout regimen may include:

  • Stretching exercises can help you enhance your range of motion.
  • Strengthening muscles using weights or exercise bands, which then aids to support joints.
  • Exercising to increase balance and agility, which can assist people maintain daily activities
  • Exercise in water to alleviate joint tension, or engage in low-impact exercises such as walking, tai chi, or cycling.

People must avoid any activities that aggravate their symptoms or put additional strain on their joints.

Getting rid of excess weight

Losing additional weight can help alleviate joint tension.

In people with knee OA, decreasing one pound (lb) of body weight can ease four pounds of pressure on the knees.

Losing excess weight may also be beneficial:

  • slow down progression of OA and cartilage breakdown
  • decrease inflammation
  • relieve pain and improve physical function

Joint support

Braces, splints, and walking canes can assist stabilize joints and remove excess pressure.

Furthermore, if joints are misaligned, remedial equipment such as orthotics or knee braces may be beneficial.

Medications

Certain drugs may aid with pain relief and inflammation reduction. These could include:

  • Anti-inflammatory and pain relievers taken orally
  • To reduce pain, administer topical ointments to affected joints.
  • Corticosteroids are pain relievers that a doctor may inject into the joint.
  • Hyaluronic acid injections into the knee to promote joint lubrication are used to treat knee OA.
  • Long-term pain relief with oral selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.

Surgery

If other therapies are ineffective, a person is suffering from serious joint degeneration, or OA is interfering with a person’s daily life, surgery may be required.

An osteotomy is a surgical procedure in which a physician removes a portion of bone near the injured joint in order to redistribute weight away from that joint.

A partial or whole joint replacement is another surgical option for OA, depending on the level of joint deterioration. This entails removing a portion or all of the joint and replacing it with a synthetic joint composed of plastic, ceramic, or metal.

Risk factors

Secondary OA risk factors include:

  • having an abnormal joint structure or unusually aligned bones
  • having muscle weakness
  • being female
  • having a family member with OA
  • being over the age of 50 years
  • having had a bone fracture, ligament or cartilage tear, or other joint injury
  • overly using the same joints, which may happen as a result of certain occupations or sports
  • having obesity, as excess body weight can put extra stress on joints and increase inflammation

Outlook

The prognosis for OA varies from person to person and is determined by which joints are affected, the severity of symptoms, and level of physical function.

OA may be minor in some people, and they may be able to effectively manage their symptoms with treatment.

In other circumstances, people with OA may suffer from significant disability. For some people with severe OA, joint replacement surgery may be the best long-term option.

Conclusion

OA is a joint condition in which joint cartilage degrades, resulting in pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion in the joints.

Secondary OA is caused by an existing condition, injury, or infection, whereas primary OA has no clear cause.

Treatment may help relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and prevent the condition from progressing.

Exercising, losing excess weight, using support equipment, and taking drugs are all possible treatment strategies. In some circumstances, surgery may be required to relieve joint stress or to replace a damaged joint.

Sources:

  • https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/osteoarthritis/advanced
  • https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/osteoarthritis
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/what-is-secondary-osteoarthritis
  • https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/arthritis/osteoarthritis
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482326/
  • https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/nutrition/weight-loss/weight-loss-benefits-for-arthritis