Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that causes the flexible tissue at the ends of bones to degrade
Osteoarthritis is a chronic disorder associated with damage to the cartilage and surrounding tissues. OA is characterized by pain, stiffness, and loss of function. Unlike many other forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis does not affect other organs of the body.
Osteoarthritis is most often caused by tissue damage. In an attempt to repair a damaged joint, chemicals accumulate in the joint and increase the production of the components of cartilage. The cartilage may swell because of water retention, become soft, and then develop cracks on the surface. Tiny cavities form in the bone beneath the cartilage, weakening the bone.
Osteoarthritis symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time. Commonly affected joints include the fingers, base of the thumbs, neck, lower back, big toes, hips, and knees. The most common symptoms are pain, tenderness, stiffness, loss of flexibility, a grating sensation, and bone spurs. In severe osteoarthritis, complete loss of cartilage causes friction between bones, causing pain at rest or pain with limited motion.
Treatment for OA can include physical therapy or exercise, drugs, surgery, and supplemental therapies with the main goal in treatment being to relieve pain, maintain joint flexibility, and optimize joint and overall function.