Osteoarthritis - Topic Overview
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a painful problem with the joints.
Healthy joints help your body move, bend, and twist. Knees glide up
and down stairs without creaking or crunching. Hips move you along on a walk
without a complaint. But when you have arthritis, such
simple, everyday movements can hurt. Using the stairs can
be painful. Walking a few steps, opening a door, and even combing your hair can
is mainly a disease of the
spine, hip, hand, knee, and foot . But it can happen in other joints too. A
joint is where two bones connect. And you have them all over your body.
Arthritis is most common in older people. Even
though you can't cure arthritis, there are many
treatments that can help with your pain and make it easier for you to move. And
you can do things to keep the damage from getting worse.
What causes osteoarthritis?
The simplest way to
describe arthritis is that it's wear and tear on the
cartilage of your joints. Your joints have cushioning
inside them called
cartilage. This tissue is firm, thick, and slippery.
It covers and
protects the ends of bones where they meet to form a joint.
arthritis, there are changes in the cartilage that cause it to break down. When
it breaks down, the bones rub together and cause damage and pain. Experts
don't know why this breakdown in cartilage happens. But
aging, joint injury, being overweight, and genetics may be a part of the
What are the symptoms?
Pain: Your joints may
ache, or the pain may feel burning or sharp.
Stiffness: Getting up in the morning can be hard. Your joints may feel stiff and creaky
for a short time, until you get moving.
Muscle weakness: The muscles around
the joint may get weaker. This happens a lot with arthritis in the
Swelling: Arthritis can cause swelling
in your joints, making them feel tender and
Deformed joints: Joints can start to
look like they are the wrong shape, especially as arthritis gets
Reduced range of motion and loss of use of the joint: As your arthritis gets worse, you may not be able
to fully bend, flex, or extend your joints. Or you may not be able to use them
Cracking and creaking: Your
joints may make crunching, creaking sounds.
How is osteoarthritis diagnosed?
Your doctor will check that your
pain is not caused by another problem.
He or she will ask questions about your symptoms, such as:
- Is the pain burning, aching, or sharp?
- Are your
joints stiff in the morning? If yes, how long does the stiffness
- Do you have any joint swelling?