Osteoarthritis Complications

Written by the Healthline Editorial Team | Published on August 25, 2010
Medically Reviewed by Brenda B. Spriggs, MD on June 25, 2014

Complications of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a type of joint inflammation. Thought to be caused by wear and tear on the cartilage, it usually becomes worse with age. Without treatment, chronic pain from OA can have significant effects on your quality of life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

  • Knee OA is a leading cause of disability among adults.
  • Approximately 80 percent of people with OA have some movement limitation.
  • One-quarter of people with OA cannot perform the major activities of daily life.

Ways Osteoarthritis Can Affect Your Life

For many people, OA is a source of chronic pain. Chronic pain can be exhausting and debilitating. It can also lead to problems with anxiety and depression.

In addition to causing pain, there are a number of ways in which OA can impact your life.

Sleep Disruption

Achy, tender joints interfere with restful, restorative sleep. When the distractions of the day are gone, pain can seem intensified. Stiffness and limited range of motion can also keep you from getting comfortable in bed.

Reduced Quality of Life

Pain and stiffness can decrease the desire to be active. You may stop wanting to participate in activities that used to bring you joy.

Arthritis may cause a decreased ability to exercise or even walk. The lack of activity doesn’t only limit your enjoyment of life. It could cause unhealthy weight gain. This, in turn, could exacerbate OA symptoms and lead to an increased risk of other complications, including:

  • diabetes
  • hypertension
  • heart disease

Reduced Productivity

Many people miss multiple days of work per year because of chronic joint pain. Arthritis also can result in a decreased ability to perform normal everyday activities such as:

  • household chores
  • cooking
  • getting dressed

In general, function can be improved with treatment. However, some people with OA may need assistance getting through their day.

Long-Term Outlook for People with Osteoarthritis

Untreated OA usually gets worse with time. Although deaths from OA are rare, it is a significant cause of disability among adults. Therefore, it is important to talk to a doctor if OA is impacting your quality of life. Surgical options such as joint replacements can restore function to arthritic joints. Pain medication and lifestyle changes can also reduce your symptoms and improve your ability to get around.

Was this article helpful? Yes No

Thank you.

Your message has been sent.

We're sorry, an error occurred.

We are unable to collect your feedback at this time. However, your feedback is important to us. Please try again later.


Show Sources

Trending Now

Numbness, Muscle Pain and Other RA Symptoms
Numbness, Muscle Pain and Other RA Symptoms
The symptoms of RA are more than just joint pain and stiffness. Common symptoms include loss of feeling, muscle pain, and more. Learn more in this slideshow.
Migraine vs. Chronic Migraine: What Are the Differences?
Migraine vs. Chronic Migraine: What Are the Differences?
There is not just one type of migraine. Chronic migraine is one subtype of migraine. Understand what sets these two conditions apart.
Famous Athletes with Asthma
Famous Athletes with Asthma
Asthma shouldn’t be a barrier to staying active and fit. Learn about famous athletes who didn’t let asthma stop them from achieving their goals.
The Best Multiple Sclerosis iPhone and Android Apps of the Year
The Best Multiple Sclerosis iPhone and Android Apps of the Year
These best multiple sclerosis apps provide helpful information and tools to keep track of your symptoms, including medication reminders.
Common Asthma Triggers and How to Avoid Them
Common Asthma Triggers and How to Avoid Them
Learn about some of the most common triggers for asthma, as well as measures you can take to minimize your risk of exposure, symptoms, and flares.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement