Will Osteoarthritis Cripple Me & Can It Cause Fatigue?

Will Osteoarthritis Cripple Me?

Osteoarthritis is a very dangerous condition because it eventually leads to the destruction of the joint involved but the good fact about it is that it has a very slow progression and usually its progression fasten after the age of 65 years. It has been divided based on clinical classification into 4 stages in the order of which symptoms begin to appear. Initially, in stages 1 and 2, it starts with slight pain in the affected joint which subsides upon movement and occurs only for a limited period. There is limited evidence of damage in the affected joint upon a radiological investigation but it could be more easily demarcated in advanced investigations like magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, etc.

As the osteoarthritis progression increases and the disease reaches stage 3, there is increased involvement of joint cartilage and the damage also increases resulting in difficulty in joint movement as well as the development of bony spurs at the ends of bones which can be well appreciated even in X rays. As the disease progresses further until stage 4, there is an occurrence of joint fusion leading to a very limited range of movement or even no movement.(1)

Will Osteoarthritis Cripple Me?

Osteoarthritis can lead to crippling in its later stages because of extensive destruction and fusion of the joint involved but it is dependent upon the fact that all joint involvements do not lead to crippling entirely. The patient suffers from greater difficulties if the joint involved is bigger and comparatively has more functions like hip and knee joints as compared to joints within tarsals and metatarsals. So, it is easy to conclude that the status of the patient depends largely upon the principle that which joint is involved and how much severity of the involvement is.

The crippling effect of osteoarthritis comes usually after the age of 75 years because the progression increases dramatically after the age of 65 years and can cause cumulative damage of 65 years in the next 10 years. It also possibly has a connection with the healing ability of the body which also decreases with aging and the factors responsible for it persist like lack of exercise, increased weight gain, comorbid conditions like diabetes mellitus, etc.(2)

Can Osteoarthritis Cause Fatigue?

Osteoarthritis causes the impairment of the function of various joints but it usually sets in only a couple of joints in a single case. Now, the muscles around the joint affected also get weakened with time. It will lead to the reduced ability of the muscles to perform the normal function which was easily performed previously by the same muscle. The person can commonly experience fatigue due to this phenomenon. Also, the nerve supply to the crossing muscle may decrease which will lead to atrophic destruction of the muscle producing similar symptoms like fatigue, cramps, pain, breathlessness, etc.(3)

Conclusion

Being osteoarthritis a degenerative as well as aging condition, it is very normal that disease progresses as the age of the person increases. But it doesn’t mean that the severity of the condition also increases at the same rate as in comparatively younger individuals and also in the people of the same age. It varies from case to case and depends upon various lifestyle factors that help in modifying the progression of the disease. In some cases, if the measures required to curb its progression are taken earlier, it may be possible that the condition does not progress to the most severe position. And at the same time, it is also possible that if measures are not taken adequately then it may produce symptoms at a much younger age. There can be loss of total joint space and fusion of the opposite bones leading to loss of functional capacity of the joint and will cripple the patient.

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