What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is an ongoing, progressive disease that causes inflammation, pain, stiffness and swelling of joints. The joints of the body are the areas where two or more bones meet. The ends of the bones are protected by a durable tissue called cartilage, which helps bones to move easily without damaging bone tissue. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage breaks down, or becomes torn or thin, resulting in friction on the ends of the bones as they make contact. With time, this causes the classic symptoms of osteoarthritis, such as joint pain, stiffness, and swelling.

Osteoarthritis can also cause inflammation of the synovial membranes. Healthy synovial membranes line and protect the joints and allow smooth and free movement. When synovial membranes are inflamed, they become swollen, tender and warm, and are unable to move freely.

Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease, because it can get worse with time and cause deterioration of joint function, difficulty moving, and even disability. Osteoarthritis cannot be cured, but early diagnosis and treatment can help to reduce symptoms and minimize complications.

Complications of osteoarthritis can be serious and include joint damage, deformity, and disability. Seek prompt medical care if you have symptoms of osteoarthritis, such as inflammation, pain, stiffness, and swelling of joints. Early diagnosis and treatment can minimize discomfort and reduce the risk of serious complications.


What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?

The symptoms of osteoarthritis vary between individuals. At the onset of the disease, symptoms can be vague and develop slowly. Many people have no symptoms in the early stages of osteoarthritis.

Joint pain occurs as osteoarthritis progresses. Joint pain becomes more severe with time and can lead to difficulty moving, immobility, and disability. Certain types of activities may inc... Read more about osteoarthritissymptoms


What causes osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of cartilage that normally cushions the ends of bones. Primary osteoarthritis is linked to age-related wear and tear on the joint with time, but the exact cause of the loss of cartilage is not completely understood. Osteoarthritis is not a normal part of aging. Certain risk factors affect the likelihood of an older person developing the condition.

I... Read more about osteoarthritiscauses


How is osteoarthritis treated?

Treatment plans for osteoarthritis use a multifaceted approach and are individualized to the stage and advancement of the disease, and your age, medical history, and coexisting diseases or conditions. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but with early recognition and treatment, it is possible to minimize or delay joint damage and complications, such as chronic pain and disability.

... Read more about osteoarthritistreatments

Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian MD Last Annual Review Date: Jun 14, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Bones, Joints and Muscles

What's Causing Your Symptoms?