Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Osteoarthritis Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Osteoarthritis - What Happens

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions your joints breaks down and wears away. When this happens, the bones rub together and cause damage and pain. In most cases, it takes years for cartilage to break down.

It's hard to know how fast arthritis may progress. You may not have any symptoms for years, until the bones and tissues become damaged. Or symptoms may come and go, stay the same, or get worse over time.

Arthritis can cause problems in any joint in the body. But in most cases, you'll have symptoms in only one or two joints or groups of joints camera.gif. Arthritis may cause problems in your hands camera.gif, hips camera.gif, knees camera.gif, or feet camera.gif, and sometimes in your spine camera.gif. At first, you may only feel pain when you're active. As the disease gets worse, you may also feel pain when you're at rest.

If you have arthritis in your fingers, the joints at the tip or middle part of your fingers may get bigger and form bumps. These are known as Heberden's and Bouchard's nodes camera.gif.

Even though there is no cure for arthritis, most people can manage their symptoms with medicine and lifestyle changes. But in a few people, arthritis or complications of arthritis may get so bad that they decide to have surgery to replace the worn joint or to fuse the bones together so that the joint won't bend.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
1
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

elderly hands
Even with arthritis pain.
woman exercising
Here are 7 easy tips.
 
acupuncture needles in woman's back
How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
chronic pain
Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
 
Keep Joints Healthy
SLIDESHOW
Chronic Pain Healthcheck
HEALTH CHECK
 
close up of man with gut
Article
man knee support
Article
 
woman with cold compress
QUIZ
Man doing tai chi
Article
 
hand gripping green rubber ball
Slideshow
person walking with assistance
Slideshow