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
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.
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 . Arthritis may cause problems in your
knees , or
feet , and sometimes in your
spine . At first, you may only
feel pain when you're active. As the disease
gets worse, you may also feel pain when you're
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 .
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 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.
Learn about the
complications of arthritis.