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Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Eamonn Brady is a pharmacist and the owner of Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse St, Mullingar. If you have any health questions e-mail them to

Osteoarthritis is by far the most common form of arthritis. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis which is caused by inflammation, osteoarthritis is caused by long-term wear-and-tear in the joints. After years of use, the cartilage that cushions the joints can break down, until bone rubs against bone. Osteoarthritis is rarely as crippling as rheumatoid arthritis, but it can have a big impact on a person's life. It can make it hard to do every day activities like getting dressed and walking up the stairs. It most commonly affects the knees, hands, hips and spine. It does not affect both sides equally and symmetrically as commonly as rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the cause of knee pain in over half of people over 55. It is not to be confused with osteoporosis which is “brittle bone disease” and not related to osteoarthritis.

Who is affected?

Osteoarthritis is the number one reason for joint-replacement surgery.  It can take decades for enough cartilage to wear down to cause osteoarthritis. It occurs mostly in men after the age of 50 and in women after the age of 40. After menopause, women are twice as likely as men of the same age to develop the condition. Being overweight and a family history of arthritis makes you more prone to the condition. However, it has less of a tendency to run in families than rheumatoid arthritis. Playing a lot of high impact sport (eg. Gaelic football and rugby) and having an injury or an operation on a joint can make you more likely to have problems later on.



The main symptoms of osteoarthritis are pain and stiffness of the joints. The joints may also become swollen although this is less common than in rheumatoid arthritis. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, where pain and stiffness tends to be worse in the morning, the pain of osteoarthritis tends to get worse throughout the day. The joints may not be able to move as easily as before. There may be a crunching feeling in the joints. Joints may make creaking sounds called crepitations. Joints may become misshapen and knobbly, and they may become unstable (but generally not as severe as with rheumatoid arthritis).



Unlike other forms of arthritis, there is no single test that can check for osteoarthritis. Outgrowths, swelling, creaking, instability and reduced movement of the joint can be signs. X-rays only give limited information and in the early stages of osteoarthritis, joints may look normal.

Top orthopaedic surgeon coming to Mullingar to speak about Osteoarthritis

Whelehans Pharmacy in conjunction with Westmeath Branch of Arthritis Ireland is hosting an Osteoarthritis Information evening on Thursday May 12th in the Greville Arms Hotel, Mullingar at 7pm. Guest speaker is consultant orthopaedic surgeon from Midland Hospital Tullamore, David Cogley, MD FRCS (Ortho). Mr Cogley will give first -hand information including surgery and aftercare for those thinking of going down this line. He will take questions from attendees. Chartered Physiotherapist Kevin Conneely MISCP of HealthStep Physiotherapy will discuss movement, exercise and the physical side of Osteoarthritis and Nutritionist Aisling Murray BSc (nutrition) will discuss how diet affects osteoarthritis. Pharmacist Eamonn Brady MPSI, will discuss medication and how to best to manage meds.


Places are limited, so call Whelehans to book your free place now on 044 9334591.


To be continued…next week I will discuss treatment of Osteoarthritis.

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