Newly diagnosed arthritis patients want to know their prognosis almost as soon as they hear the diagnosis. It’s only natural that you want to know what will happen and what to expect years down the road.
Osteoarthritis (OA), especially, is saddled with a certain amount of negativity: it’s an old person’s disease, and it just gets worse. How accurate is that, though? In reality, OA can occur in anyone with joint damage, it progresses rather slowly, and may be diagnosed as early as your 20s.
Osteoarthritis is viewed by most people as a gradual wearing out of the joints — you could say it’s slowly progressive. The most current research, though, indicates that not all osteoarthritis patients worsen; some actually stabilize.
Rapidly progressive joint damage is not common in osteoarthritis. While about 40 percent of older people have x-ray evidence revealing significant osteoarthritis in their hips and knees, less than 5 percent will have joint replacement surgery. Based on that fact alone, osteoarthritis does not continue to worsen for most patients.