Osteoarthritis is an arthritis associated with the break-down of cartilage in the joints causing the bones to rub against each other causing pain, stiffness and swelling. The parts of the body usually affected are the hands, knees and hips; although other joints could develop arthritis. It is usually a form of arthritis assumed to be a symptom of old age; however, this is not strictly the case. Osteoarthritis, while one of the most common versions of arthritis, is a disease that does not strike some and yet strikes others when young.
Breakdown of cartilage can result from traumatic injury or obesity (secondary osteoarthritis), normal wear and tear on the joints (primary osteoarthritis). Not everyone develops osteoarthritis because it is a disease, even the very old can be free from this condition. Usually though, if osteoarthritis develops in a younger person, it is because of traumatic injury. Over 27 million people are affected by this disease in the United States alone.
In order to assist doctors in diagnosing this condition, some of the following blood tests can be used: 1) Sedimentation Rate (screen for inflammation); 2) Uric Acid, serum or urine (checks for a type of arthritis called Gout); or, 3) C-Reactive Protein, Quantitative (a test for inflammation).
Written by Theresa B. Tannich, Order Processor Supervisor, Direct Laboratories, Inc., February 27, 2012.