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1. The knees and hips are vulnerable to wear and tear. Cartilage is the slippery lubricant that covers your joints and lets them glide smoothly. Over time, this cartilage can wear away, particularly in the knee and hip joints that support your body. Your age, your weight, and old injuries also matter. The result is that the bones of the joints rub against each other without enough cushioning. This is called osteoarthritis (OA).

2. The first sign of hip OA is often stiffness in the groin or thigh. You may notice pain in your groin, thigh, or buttocks when you exercise. It may be worse in the mornings. In the early stages of OA, resting will usually relieve the pain.

3. The first sign of knee OA is often pain and stiffness. Similar to OA, pain is typically worse in the morning. You may find that your knee locks or buckles when you walk. Eventually, you may feel pain and have trouble flexing your knee. Kneeling or climbing stairs may make the pain worse.

4. You can relieve OA at home. First, get enough rest. While it's important to stay active, give your joints time off when they hurt. Second, ask your doctor about taking chondroitin and glucosamine. These supplements may help ease pain and help you move more comfortably. You can try anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen sodium (Aleve) if your doctor says these are safe for you. They provide fast relief for mild to moderate arthritis pain.

5. Losing weight reduces pain and stiffness. Being overweight puts extra stress on your knees and hips. Doctors say that every 10 pounds you lose can lower your arthritis pain by as much as 20%.

6. Exercise helps joints work better. Keep limber and start with stretching. Low-impact exercise, such as swimming or cycling, will strengthen your joints and increase their range of motion. A physical therapist can show you exercises to strengthen the muscles that support your knees or hips. Stronger muscles can reduce the stress on your joints during everyday activities, too.