Conditions InDepth: Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is an extremely common and potentially debilitating progressive condition. In osteoarthritis, the articular cartilage (the tissue located at the end of bones) deteriorates over time.

Normally, cartilage is the “shock absorber” in a joint. It absorbs energy from jarring movement, protecting the bone and other tissue in the area. Cartilage is naturally an exceedingly slippery material and helps the joint glide smoothly. When the cartilage begins to show “wear and tear,” the synovium or lining of the joint becomes inflamed and painful, and the joint stiff.

Joints Affected by Osteoarthritis

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Osteoarthritis is an extremely common ailment of aging. In fact, it’s the most common joint condition throughout the world. Researchers believe that there are more than 20 million people with osteoarthritis in the United States alone. More than half of all people over the age of 65 have arthritis in at least one joint; researchers think that nearly everyone over the age of 75 has some degree of osteoarthritis. If you’ve had an injury to a joint, you may develop osteoarthritis at a younger age.

What are the risk factors for osteoarthritis?
What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?
How is osteoarthritis diagnosed?
What are the treatments for osteoarthritis?
Are there screening tests for osteoarthritis?
How can I reduce my risk of osteoarthritis?
What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?
What is it like to live with osteoarthritis?
Where can I get more information about osteoarthritis?

References:

Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: http://www.arthritis.org/ .

Cecil Textbook of Medicine . 21st ed. W.B. Saunders Company; 2000.

Conn’s Current Therapy . 54th ed. W.B. Saunders Company; 2002.

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/ .

Manek NJ, Lane NE. Osteoarthritis: current concepts in diagnosis and management. American Family Physician . 2000;51(6). Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/20000315/1795.html.



Last reviewed February 2007 by Robert E. Leach, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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