What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis that most often affects middle-age to elderly people. It occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down over time causing pain and stiffness in joints. Osteoarthritis is a disease of the entire joint, involving the cartilage, joint lining, ligaments, and bone. Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint in your body, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine.
Factors that may play a role in the development of Osteoarthritis include:
Age. OA becomes more common with increasing age. It may be that the state of the blood supply to the joint and the state of the natural repair mechanisms become less efficient in some people as they age.
Genetics. There may be some inherited tendency for OA to develop in some people.
Obesity. Knee and hip OA are more likely to develop, or be more severe, in obese people. This is because there is an increased load on the joints and a potential for more joint damage.
Your sex. Women are more likely to develop OA than men.
Previous joint injury, damage or deformity. For example, this may include previous joint infection, a previous break (fracture) in the bone around a joint, or a previous ligament injury that caused a joint instability.
Occupational overuse of a joint. For example, OA of the knee may be more common in elite athletes and elbow OA may be more common in people working with pneumatic drills.
Osteoarthritis symptoms can usually be effectively managed, although the underlying process cannot be reversed. Staying active, maintaining a healthy weight and other treatments may slow progression of the disease and help improve pain and joint function.
Individuals should consult a qualified health care provider for professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment of osteoarthritis.
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