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What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis, also known as “wear and tear” arthritis, is a progressive disease of the joints. The articular cartilage covering the end of bones in joints gradually wears away.

How does osteoarthritis occur?

Osteoarthritis usually develops after many years of use. It mainly affects people who are middle-aged or older. Risk factors for osteoarthritis include obesity, previous injury to the joint, and family history of osteoarthritis.

What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?

A joint affected by osteoarthritis may be painful and inflamed. Pain or a dull ache usually develops gradually over time. Pain may be worse in the morning and feel better with activity. Motion may be limited as well and you may experience clicking, locking, or grinding.

How is osteoarthritis diagnosed?

A medical history, physical examination, and an X-ray will be done to diagnose osteoarthritis. An X-ray will should the extent of joint deterioration including narrowing of joint space, thinning or erosion of bone, excess fluid in the joint, bone spurs, or other abnormalities.

How is osteoarthritis treated?

Nonsurgical treatment of osteoarthritis can slow the progression, increase motion, and improve strength. Those treatments may include lifestyle modifications, medications (antiinflammatories, supplements, cortisone injections), and physical therapy.  Surgical treatments may be considered if early treatments lose effectiveness or do not stop the pain. Surgical options for osteoarthritis include arthroscopy, osteotomy, joint fusion, and joint replacement.

Information obtained from The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.