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What is Osteoarthritis? and What are it's Symptoms?
Jan 29, 2014

What Is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common underlying cause of arthritis symptoms. It's sometimes referred to as "wear-and-tear" arthritis, because the symptoms are usually the result of joint cartilage wearing down due to age or hard use.

The most commonly involved parts of the body are the hips, knees, hands, neck, and lower spine. However, almost any joint can potentially be affected.

Osteoarthritis is extremely common in older adults and often causes chronic pain and stiffness in the affected joints. The pain and disability can range from mild and occasional to severe daily pain that can interfere with mobility or sleep. Although it's not usually possible to permanently cure osteoarthritis, certain treatments can help control symptoms and maximize movement. It's also sometimes possible to surgically repair or replace a joint damaged by arthritis.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

  • Pain in the affected joint(s), especially during or after using the joint
  • Joint stiffness, especially in the morning or after a period of resting the joint
  • Tenderness when certain parts of the joint(s) are touched or massaged
  • Enlargement of the affected joint(s)
  • Reduced flexibility of the joint(s) -- difficulty moving it as well as before
  • A grating or crunching sensation when the joint is used

Osteoarthritis in the neck or low back can cause pain and stiffness in those areas. It's also possible to develop additional symptoms if the nerves leaving the spine are affected by damage to the spaces between vertebrae.

Osteoarthritis symptoms usually start off being mild and occasional but over time can become severe and almost constant. Symptoms can also get better, especially if a person loses weight or otherwise reduces stress on the affected joint(s).

Although osteoarthritis generally can't be cured, proper management can reduce symptoms and sometimes delay worsening of the disease.

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