Conditions InDepth: Osteoarthritis
by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD and Michael Jubinville, MPH
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the wearing down of structures in the joint. This leads to pain and stiffness. It can happen to any joint. It is most common in the knees, hip, spine, and hands.
Cartilage is a smooth tissue that covers bone surfaces inside the joint. It lets bones to move smoothly over each other. It is often the first part of the knee that wears down. The breakdown causes rough areas of the joint. This causes pain with movement. All the cartilage may wear away. This leaves the bone bare. It makes moving hard and painful. Over time, this can lead to extra stress and damage to other parts of the joint.
OA is a degenerative joint disease. This means it worsens over time. It is more common in women and older adults. OA is different from person to person. Some may have mild symptoms. Others may have symptoms that impact mobility and quality of life.
OA is often the result of wear and tear on joints over time. People may be more or less likely to have OA because of a genetics and the environment. Things that can increase stress on joints and the amount of wear and tear include:
In some cases, the cause of OA may be unknown.
What are the risk factors for osteoarthritis?
What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?
How is osteoarthritis diagnosed?
What are the treatments for osteoarthritis?
Are there screening tests for osteoarthritis?
How can I reduce my risk of osteoarthritis?
What questions should I ask my doctor?
What is it like to live with osteoarthritis?
Where can I get more information about osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated March 15, 2018. Accessed May 30, 2018.
Osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated March 15, 2018. Accessed May 30, 2018.
Osteoarthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated May 30, 2016. Accessed May 30, 2018.
Sinusas, K. Osteoarthritis: Diagnosis and treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2012;85(1):49-56.
Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 5/30/2018
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