What is osteoarthritis?
Of the 100-or-so types of arthritis that can affect us, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type. OA is caused by “wear and tear” on the joints over time. Much like the tires on a car, the cartilage between joints, which provides cushioning to the joint, wears down over time and with use.
When the cushioning between the joints is worn off, the bones rub against each other. This causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joint.
Who gets osteoarthritis?
Basically, everyone. As we get older the chance of developing OA increases. Risk factors for developing OA sooner and more severe include obesity, previous joint injury, weak thigh muscles, and genetics (do your mom and grandmother have osteoarthritis?).
What exactly happens in osteoarthritis?
There is usually a rubbery material between the two bones that form a joint called cartilage. Cartilage acts as a cushion between the two bones. As the bones slide over each other (like bending a joint) or pressed against each other (like walking), cartilage absorbs the impact and prevents bone damage and pain. As cartilage wears off over time, the two bones get closer to each other and eventually start rubbing against each other.
The joints we use the most often- the joints of the hands, knees, hips, and spine- are most likely to be affected by osteoarthritis. However, almost any joint may be affected.
Symptoms of OA may include:
- Joint pain
- Join stiffness
- Joint deformity
- Swelling in the joint
- Grinding noise with movement
- Decreased range of motion of the joint
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