Overview:

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time.

  • Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine.
  • Osteoarthritis symptoms can usually be managed, although the damage to joints can't be reversed. Staying active, maintaining a healthy weight and some treatments might slow progression of the disease and help improve pain and joint function.

Symptoms:

Osteoarthritis symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time. Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Pain. Affected joints might hurt during or after movement.
  • Stiffness. Joint stiffness might be most noticeable upon awakening or after being inactive.
  • Tenderness. Your joint might feel tender when you apply light pressure to or near it.
  • Loss of flexibility. You might not be able to move your joint through its full range of motion.
  • Grating sensation. You might feel a grating sensation when you use the joint, and you might hear popping or crackling.
  • Bone spurs. These extra bits of bone, which feel like hard lumps, can form around the affected joint.
  • Swelling. This might be caused by soft tissue inflammation around the joint.

Causes:

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones in your joints gradually deteriorates. Cartilage is a firm, slippery tissue that make sit possible for joint to bend (like knees, elbows and hips) without bones grinding against eachother (which causes pain). Eventually, if the cartilage wears down completely, bone will rub on bone and that hurts.

  • Osteoarthritis has often been referred to as a "wear and tear" disease. But besides the breakdown of cartilage, osteoarthritis affects the entire joint. It causes changes in the bone and deterioration of the connective tissues that hold the joint together and attach muscle to bone. It also causes inflammation of the joint lining.

*The content of this article was written by the doctors at the Mayo Clinic and adapted by Antara

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