What is osteoarthiritis?

Home / What is osteoarthiritis?

Arthritis is a painful and degenerative condition marked by inflammation in the joints that causes stiffness and pain. There are two main kinds, osteo and rheumatoid. Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, gets worse with age and is caused by wear and tear over the years. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between bones wears down, until bone grates on bone.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is also known as:

  • degenerative joint disease
  • degenerative arthritis
  • wear-and-tear arthritis

OA is a disease of aging. Knee osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of OA, is a painful and debilitating condition. It’s usually felt more severely after physical activity. Symptoms include pain and stiffness, loss of flexibility, a feeling that the bones in the joint are rubbing together, and swelling and tenderness. As symptoms of knee OA gradually increase, it becomes hard to live with the constant pain associated with it. Other risk factors include obesity, stress and joint injury.

The most common symptoms of OA are pain and stiffness. OA can occur in any joint although joints most commonly affected include the hands, feet, spine, and the large weight bearing joints, such as the hips and knees.  As OA progresses, the affected joints appear larger, are stiff and painful, and usually feel better with gentle use but worse with excessive or prolonged use, thus distinguishing it from rheumatoid arthritis.

OA at the toes leads to the formation of bunions, rendering them red or swollen. Some people notice these physical changes before they experience any pain.

OA is a slow-developing disease. It is a silent disorder that can be difficult to diagnose until it begins to cause painful or debilitating symptoms. Early OA is usually only diagnosed after an accident or other incident that results in a fracture requiring an X-ray.

Over time, OA causes pain, swelling, stiffness and limited range of motion.

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