What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis, affecting about 27 million Americans age 25 and older. It occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down over time and commonly affects the neck, hands, lower back, hips and knees. Osteoarthritis is mostly caused by aging joints, obesity and injury.

Cartilage is a firm slippery tissue that serve as a “shock absorber” and allow nearly frictionless joint motion. Osteoarthritis is caused when the slick surface of the cartilage becomes rough and wears down over time. If the cartilage wears down completely, you are left with painful bone rubbing against bone.

Who Does it Affect?

Although osteoarthritis commonly affects both men and women who are older and/or obese, younger people can develop OA as a result of an injury, joint malfunction, or genetic defect.

Other common risk factors include:

  • Female
  • Previous joint injury
  • Weak thigh muscles
  • Overuse of the joint
  • Genetics
  • Diabetes, thyroid disease, gout or Paget’s disease

Effects of Osteoarthritis

Patients who have osteoarthritis of the hip often have trouble walking. Possible lifestyle effects can include depression, anxiety, and job and financial limitations.

What Are the Symptoms?

Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Tenderness of the joints
  • Pain after movement
  • Stiffness
  • Loss of flexibility
  • Grating sensation
  • Bones spurs (hard lumps formed around the affected joint)

When to Call a Doctor

If your pain and symptoms last more than a few weeks, consult your physician.

How is Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?

X-rays, MRI, blood tests, joint fluid analysis

How is Osteoarthritis Treated?

Although there is no cure to osteoarthritis, there are a number of medications to help relieve pain caused by the condition.

Recovery Process

Living with Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis Prevention

Related Topics

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Other Helpful Sources

Mayo Clinic
Arthritis Foundation
Web MD
NIH
CDC