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National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases


Additional Resources continued...

American Physical Therapy Association
1111 North Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA 22314–1488
Phone: 703–684–2782 or
800–999–APTA (2782) (free of charge)
Fax: 703–684–7343

This association is a national professional organization representing physical therapists, allied personnel, and students. Its objectives are to improve research, public understanding, and education in the physical therapies.

Arthritis Foundation
P.O. Box 7669
Atlanta, GA 30357-0669
Phone: 404–872–7100 or
800–568–4045 (free of charge) or your local chapter
(listed in the telephone directory)

This is the major voluntary organization devoted to arthritis. The foundation publishes free informational brochures on various types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, as well as a monthly magazine for members that provides up-to-date information on all forms of arthritis. The foundation also can provide addresses and phone numbers for local chapters and physician and clinic referrals.

Key Words

Acupuncture – the use of fine needles inserted at specific points on the skin. Primarily used for pain relief, acupuncture may be a helpful component of an osteoarthritis treatment plan for some people.

Analgesics – medications designed to relieve pain. Pure analgesics do not have an effect on inflammation.

Biomarkers – physical signs or biological substances that indicate changes in bone or cartilage. Doctors believe they may one day be able to use biomarkers for diagnosing osteoarthritis before it causes noticeable joint damage and for monitoring the progression of the disease and its responsiveness to treatment.

Bone spurs – small growths of bone that can occur on the edges of a joint affected by osteoarthritis. These growths are also known as osteophytes.

Bouchard’s nodes – small, bony knobs associated with osteoarthritis of the hand that can occur on the middle joints of the fingers.

Cartilage – a hard but slippery coating on the end of each bone. The breakdown of joint cartilage is the primary feature of osteoarthritis.

Chondrocytes – components of cartilage. Chondrocytes are cells that produce cartilage, are found throughout cartilage, and help it stay healthy as it grows. Sometimes, however, they release certain enzymes that destroy collagen and other proteins.

Chondroitin sulfate – a naturally existing substance in joint cartilage that is believed to draw fluid into the cartilage. Chondroitin is often taken in supplement form along with glucosamine as a treatment for osteoarthritis. See the “glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate” section under Complementary and Alternative Therapies for more information.

Collagen – a family of fibrous proteins that are components of cartilage. Collagens are the building blocks of skin, tendon, bone, and other connective tissues.

Corticosteroids – powerful anti-inflammatory hormones made naturally in the body or man made for use as medicine. Corticosteroids may be injected into the affected joints to temporarily reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

COX-2 inhibitors – a relatively new class of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that are formulated to relieve pain and inflammation. For information about the risk posed by NSAIDs, see “NSAIDs” in the “How Is Osteoarthritis Treated?” section.

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