Osteoarthritis: What is it and what can help?


Osteoarthritis, the most common joint disease worldwide, is caused by cartilage wear. As a result, the joint is inflamed. We betray what helps against it.

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a so-called degenerative joint disease in which the cartilaginous layer of the joints is worn due to age. Especially often hands, hips and knees are affected, but theoretically, arthrosis can occur at any joint. Osteoarthritis can make joints stiff, inflamed, swollen, and painful. The disease can not be completely cured, but it can be delayed by a healthy lifestyle. 

How does osteoarthritis develop?

The fact that we can move freely is a small miracle of nature – but often we only appreciate the daily work of our joints when they are damaged, for example, by osteoarthritis. But how is it? At each joint end of the body sit cartilage , which act as a shock absorber on the one hand and on the other hand as a protective layer. As a result, strains caused by movement are distributed evenly and bones are prevented from rubbing against each other directly. 

The older we get, the more this cartilage layer is depleted (“primary osteoarthritis”). The joints become stiff and painful during movement – arthrosis develops. However, there is also the so-called secondary osteoarthritis. The wear is not caused by age, but for example, by overweight.

Joint wear: Various stages of osteoarthritis


Before osteoarthritis is usually a damage to the cartilage. Initially, this cartilage damage is superficial and affects only a small area. Over time, there is bone compression under the cartilage. Only through these changes one speaks of the early stage of osteoarthritis. This often does not cause any noticeable discomfort and is more likely to be discovered accidentally on an X-ray.


Many patients are in a kind of intermediate phase of osteoarthritis for years, while the first complaints arise and progress before they reach the late stage of the disease. In the intermediate stage, the attrition of the cartilage continues, because many people fall into a protective posture to reduce pain. At the same time, movement supplies the cartilage with the nutrients it needs to regenerate itself. Uneven loading of the joint causes inflammation and first bony spikes (“Ostheophyten”), which reduces the freedom of movement. Many sufferers go through the joint pain only now to the doctor, where then the diagnosis of arthrosis is made.

late stage

In the late stages of osteoarthritis, the cartilage is completely abraded. As a result, the so-called joint gap disappears – the adjacent bones rub against each other. Even more osteophytes develop which broaden the joint and cause it to swell. This stiffens it and it can cause severe pain.

Symptoms: What causes osteoarthritis?

The most common complaints with arthrosis are decreasing mobility and pain in the joints. You should still pay attention to the following symptoms:

  • Joints swell up
  • Heat at the joint
  • rigidity
  • Burdens increase pain
  • The circumference of the joint becomes larger
  • Finger joints are powerless, it comes to hardening

Risk Factors: You should know these causes

If it is a secondary osteoarthritis, which is not age-related, the following causes of wear of the knees, hands and hips may be present:

  • overweight
  • Intense sports (heavy wear)
  • General malpositions
  • Overload at work (eg due to frequent kneeling)
  • False footwear (eg too tight shoes that interfere with proper unrolling of the foot)
  • Diseases and injuries (eg meniscal damage)
  • Metabolic diseases such as gout or type 2 diabetes

Treatment: What helps against osteoarthritis?

The arthrosis is unfortunately not curable – once the cartilage is damaged, it uses more and more from. Therefore, one should pay particular attention to the treatment of his lifestyle in order to slow the joint wear as possible and to prevent osteoarthritis so. In addition, the therapy is directed primarily against the pain occurring. The following methods are often used:

  • drugs 
  • physical therapy
  • Heat or cold treatments
  • Wobenzym enzyme therapy (ensures a balance of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory messengers, which improves the healing)
  • Weight loss (reduces the stress on the joints)
  • Exercise (best joint-friendly sports such as Nordic walking or swimming)

Preventing osteoarthritis: stay healthy thanks to the right movement 

Regular exercise supplies the cartilage with nutrients. To prevent osteoarthritis, there should be at least half an hour of exercise on the daily schedule two to three times a week. But even small changes, such as a daily walk, support the joints and can relieve pain.

The right diet for osteoarthritis

Equally important is a healthy diet, also to avoid overweight. The nutritional science recommends for the treatment of osteoarthritis low-fat and rich in vitamins to eat. Particularly unsaturated fatty acids (eg in olive oil), low-fat dairy products, fiber from whole grains and nuts, fish and vegetables should be more on the menu.