Learn about arthritis (osteoarthritis), the symptoms of this degenerative joint disease and the treatments you may receive at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is a chronic degenerative joint disease characterized by the slow breakdown of joint cartilage – the result of wear and tear on your joints. Although it can occur in any joint, usually it affects the hands, knees, hips or spine. The disease also is known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease.

Several risk factors are associated with osteoarthritis, including heredity, obesity and injury or overuse. Although osteoarthritis affects mostly middle-aged and older adults, it also can begin in younger adults who have injured a joint. 

Because osteoarthritis usually develops slowly over many years, many people do not experience symptoms until several years after cartilage breakdown begins.

The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis are:

  • Joint pain and swelling, especially after use or during a change in the weather
  • Joint stiffness, especially after sleeping or inactivity
  • Bony lumps on the fingers
  • Limited joint movement and loss of flexibility
  • Grinding of joints when moved (in more advanced stages of osteoarthritis) as the cartilage wears away

Treatment can include one or more of the following:

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