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Conditions InDepth: Osteoarthritis

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.

Joints Affected by Osteoarthritis

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Causes

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:

  • Prior injury to the joint
  • Bones that are not in line
  • Certain sports, such as running
  • Jobs with a lot of:
    • Standing, lifting, and moving heavy objects (hip OA)
    • Kneeling, squatting, walking, and moving heavy objects (knee OA)
  • Excess weight
  • Repetitive movements over long periods of time

In some cases, the cause of OA may be unknown.

REFERENCES:

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116897/Osteoarthritis-OA-of-the-knee. Updated March 15, 2018. Accessed May 30, 2018.

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114846/Osteoarthritis-OA-of-the-hip. Updated March 15, 2018. Accessed May 30, 2018.

Osteoarthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Osteoarthritis/default.asp. 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