Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. This is followed by chronic inflammation of the joint lining. Healthy cartilage is a cushion between the bones in a joint. Osteoarthritis usually affects the hands, feet, spine, hips, and knees. People with osteoarthritis usually have joint pain and limited movement of the affected joint.

  • Causes

    The exact cause is unclear.

  • Definition

    Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. This is followed by chronic inflammation of the joint lining. Healthy cartilage is a cushion between the bones in a joint. Osteoarthritis usually affects the hands, feet, spine, hips, and knees. People with osteoarthritis usually have joint pain and limited movement of the affected joint.

    Joints Affected by Osteoarthritis
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  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    Tests may include:

    • X-ray to see internal body structures
    • CT scan to look at the extent of the arthritis
    • Arthrocentesis to rule out other causes of arthritis
    • Blood tests to rule out other causes of arthritis

  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of developing osteoarthritis, take these steps:

    • Maintain a healthy weight.
    • Do regular, gentle exercise, such as walking, stretching, swimming, or yoga.
    • Avoid repetitive motions and risky activities that may contribute to joint injury, especially after age 40.
    • With advancing age, certain activities may have to be stopped or modified. It is important to continue to be active, so find an activity that suits you.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your chance of developing osteoarthritis include:

  • Symptoms

    Osteoarthritis may cause:

    • Mild-to-severe pain in a joint, especially after overuse or long periods of inactivity, such as sitting for a long time
    • Creaking or grating sound in the joint
    • Swelling, stiffness, limited movement of the joint, especially in the morning
    • Deformity of the joint

  • Treatment

    There is no treatment that stops cartilage loss or repairs damaged cartilage or bones of the joint. When cartilage wears away, bone on bone friction causes pain and inflammation. The goal of treatment is to reduce joint pain and inflammation, and to improve joint function.

    Options may include: