What is the outlook for osteoarthritis?
It’s impossible to predict how osteoarthritis will develop for any one person. It can sometimes develop over just a year or two and cause a lot of damage to your joint, which may then cause some deformity or disability. But more often osteoarthritis is a slow process that develops over many years and results in fairly small changes in just part of your joint. This doesn’t mean it won’t be painful, but it’s less likely to cause severe deformity or disability. Sometimes the condition reaches a peak a few years after the symptoms start and then remains the same, or it may even improve.
Unlike rheumatoid arthritis (a type of inflammatory arthritis), osteoarthritis only affects your joints. Because there’s very little, if any, swelling (inflammation) in osteoarthritic joints, it won’t make you feverish or unwell. However, some people with osteoarthritis will develop other illnesses purely by chance.