What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is a chronic, degenerative joint disease that affects mostly middle-aged and older adults. Osteoarthritis is characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage. Although it can occur in any joint, usually it affects the hands, knees, hips, or spine. The disease is also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease.
What causes osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis can be classified as primary or secondary. Primary osteoarthritis has an unknown cause, while secondary osteoarthritis is caused by another disease, infection, injury, or deformity. Osteoarthritis is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage in the joint. As the cartilage wears down, the bone ends may thicken, forming bony growths or spurs that interfere with joint movement. In addition, bits of bone and cartilage may float in the joint space and fluid-filled cysts may form in the bone, limiting joint movement. Several risk factors are associated with osteoarthritis, including the following:
- heredity Slight joint defects or double-jointedness (laxity) and genetic defects may contribute to the development of osteoarthritis.
- obesity Excessive weight can put undue stress on such joints as the knees over time.
- injury/overuse Significant injury to a joint, such as the knee, can later result in osteoarthritis. Injury may also result from repeated overuse or misuse over a period of time.
Treatment for osteoarthritis:
Specific treatment for osteoarthritis will be determined by your physician based on:
- your age, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the condition
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, and therapies
- expectation for the course of the condition
- your opinion or preference