8 symptoms of osteoarthritis

by | November 19, 2019

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and often occurs in the knee joint and particularly with increasing age.

BY: Dr Edwin Ong

What do golf superstar Tiger Woods, basketball legend Kobe Bryant and Hollywood actor Patrick Stewart all have in common? They are famous examples of people who live with osteoarthritis (OA). Also known as degenerative or “wear and tear” arthritis, OA is the most common form of arthritis.

OA most often occurs in the knee joint. In Singapore, a National Health Surveillance Survey (NHSS) conducted in 2013 found that the estimated national prevalence of knee OA was 11 percent. Women were more likely to be affected than men, while knee OA was more prevalent among Indian ethnicity (20.5 percent), followed by Malay (17.7 percent), and Chinese (9.3 percent).

Not surprisingly, knee OA is more likely to occur with increasing age. However, in recent years, the prevalence of knee OA in younger people between the ages of 18 to 50 years old has been steadily rising as a result of a rising interest in sports and consequently, knee injuries.

With the knowledge that knee OA is so common, it is therefore important to recognise the eight symptoms of knee OA:

  1. Pain – This is the most common symptom and is typically worse when waking up in the morning or after an extended period of inactivity. In severe cases, the pain can be excruciating and result in disability.
  2. Stiffness – Again, stiffness is worse in the morning or after a period of inactivity. The stiffness usually reduces after a short period of walking about.
  3. Swelling – This tends to occur at the end of a long day and particularly if a lot of standing or walking is involved.
  4. A “grating” or “crunching” sensation – A person with knee OA can either hear this or feel it when placing a hand on the knee cap while bending or straightening the knee. This occurs due to degenerated meniscus and cartilage, loss of synovial fluid, and the presence of bone spurs.
  5. Decreased range of motion– This occurs in the late stages of knee OA. Some people are not even able to fully straighten their knees at all.
  6. Locking or “jamming” of the joint – This happens when the meniscus is degenerated or torn and flaps about during joint movement. Another reason is due to fragments of bone or soft tissue floating within the joint space.
  7. Joint instability – In the late stages of knee OA, the soft tissues of the joint are severely damaged. This includes the ligaments, which play a crucial role in maintaining joint stability.
  8. Joint deformity – This also occurs in the late stages of knee OA. Severe soft tissue damage and joint space narrowing affects the alignment of the knee joint. The knees start to appear bowed and deformed.

If you or any of your loved ones are experiencing these symptoms, speak to your doctor to learn about the available treatment options.


** Dr Edwin Ong is from Dr Tan & Partners clinic (DTAP Clinic). He focuses on comprehensive and holistic care for men’s health, women’s health, and other acute and Chronic medical issues including viscosupplementation treatment for knee arthritis.

(** PHOTO CREDIT: Unsplash)




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