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Osteoarthritis (OA) is the wearing down of cartilage between bones. Cartilage is smooth tissue that cushions bones and helps them move smoothly over each other.
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OA is caused by the wearing down of cartilage between bones. The damage worsens over time. For some people, the cartilage may completely wear away.
OA is more common in older adults. It is also more common in women. Other things that may raise the risk are:
OA is most common in larger joints that support weight, such as the spine, hips, and knees. It is also common in active joints like the hand and feet. Common problems are:
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
Images of the joint may be taken. This can be done with:
OA cannot be cured. The goal of treatment is to:
Treatment may change over time. Options may include:
Some people may need surgery if other methods do not help. Surgery may be done to:
To lower the risk of OA:
American College of Rheumatology
The Arthritis Foundation
The Arthritis Society
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Last reviewed January 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS Last Updated: 5/14/2021