What is Osteoarthritis?

Arthritis is a general term that describes inflammation in joints. Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis. It is associated with a breakdown of cartilage in joints. Any joint in the body may be affected, but it most commonly occurs in the hips, knees, shoulder, and spine.

Cartilage is a firm, rubbery material that covers the ends of bones in normal joints. Its main function is to reduce friction in the joints and serve as a “shock absorber.” The shock-absorbing quality of normal cartilage comes from its ability to change shape when compressed.

Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage in a joint to become stiff and lose its elasticity, making it more susceptible to damage. Over time, the cartilage may wear away in some areas, greatly decreasing its ability to act as a shock-absorber. As the cartilage wears away, tendons and ligaments stretch, causing pain. If the condition worsens, the bones could rub against each other and the need for osteoarthritis treatment including medication or surgery may become necessary. Knee osteoarthritis and hip osteoarthritis symptoms include:

Knee/Hip aching and soreness, especially with movement Knee/Hip Swelling Pain after overuse or after long periods of inactivity

Osteoarthritis affects almost 16 million men and women in the United States. The chance of developing osteoarthritis increases with age. Most people over age 60 have osteoarthritis symptoms to some degree, but its severity varies, and some people develop more severe arthritis symptoms than others.

Early non-surgical osteoarthritis treatment can slow the progression of the disease. Most treatment programs consist of lifestyle modifications, medications, and physical therapies. If there is no osteoarthritis pain relief after early treatment, the physician may choose to do surgery depending upon age, level of activity, and the condition of the affected joint.