Osteoarthritis

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Overview

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wears down over time. Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine.

Symptoms

Pain. Affected joints might hurt during or after movement.

Stiffness. Joint stiffness might be most noticeable upon awakening or after being inactive.

Tenderness. ...

Loss of flexibility. ...

Grating sensation. ...

Bone spurs. ...

Swelling.

Causes

OA is caused by joint damage. This damage can have a cumulative effect over time, which is why age is one of the main causes of the joint damage leading to OA. The older you are, the more repetitive stress you’ve had on your joints.

Other causes of joint damage include:

past injury, such as torn cartilage, dislocated joints, or ligament injuries

joint malformation

obesity

poor posture

Certain risk factors increase your chances of developing OA. They include:

having family with the condition, particularly parents or siblings

gender, with women having higher rates of OA than men

being at least 50 years old, according to the Arthritis Foundation

having undergone menopause

having an occupation that involves kneeling, climbing, heavy lifting, or similar actions

a history of injury

being overweight or having obesity

poor posture

having another medical condition that affects your joint health, such as diabetes or a different type of arthritis

Having OA in one part of your body also increases your risk of developing OA in other parts of your body. Learn more about possible causes of OA.

Risk factors

Factors that can increase your risk of osteoarthritis include:

Older age. The risk of osteoarthritis increases with age.

Sex. Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis, though it isn't clear why.

Obesity. Carrying extra body weight contributes to osteoarthritis in several ways, and the more you weigh, the greater your risk. Increased weight adds stress to weight-bearing joints, such as your hips and knees. Also, fat tissue produces proteins that can cause harmful inflammation in and around your joints.

Joint injuries. Injuries, such as those that occur when playing sports or from an accident, can increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Even injuries that occurred many years ago and seemingly healed can increase your risk of osteoarthritis.

Repeated stress on the joint. If your job or a sport you play places repetitive stress on a joint, that joint might eventually develop osteoarthritis.

Genetics. Some people inherit a tendency to develop osteoarthritis.

Bone deformities. Some people are born with malformed joints or defective cartilage.

Certain metabolic diseases. These include diabetes and a condition in which your body has too much iron (hemochromatosis).

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Complications

Rapid, complete breakdown of cartilage resulting in loose tissue material in the joint (chondrolysis).

Bone death (osteonecrosis).

Stress fractures (hairline crack in the bone that develops gradually in response to repeated injury or stress).

Bleeding inside the joint.

Prevention

Keep a healthy body weight. Extra weight puts stress on your joints. ...

Control your blood sugar. High blood sugar levels raise your risk of getting OA. ...

Be active every day. ...

Prevent injury to your joints. ...

Pay attention to pain.