Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most prevalent conditions in people over the age of 50, but it can go on without a trace for quite a while. Joints breakdown gradually, and the first signs of the condition aren’t necessarily what you would expect.
Changes can begin in the hands, neck, back, knees or hips, and can come in variety of ways, so you may not know that your joints are giving out before it’s too late. Luckily, knowing the early warning signs can give you an advantage – early detection can save you pain, frustration, and intrusive surgery down the road.
1. Knee Pain
A group of Canadian researchers have found that knee pain could be an early indicator of osteoarthritis. After examining x-rays and MRI scans of 255 people aged 40 to 79 years old who had knee pain, they found that half of them had signs of cartilage damage (evident on the MRI scans) that suggested OA was right around the corner. Another 38% of patients had x-ray results that showed the telltale wear and tear.
Ultimately, the message is that knee pain should never be ignored, especially if you have other risk factors for OA, such as abnormal gait, advanced age, or a particularly active lifestyle — the study showed those who played sports regularly after age 20 were 35% more likely to develop OA.