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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:
- Exercise or physical therapy
- Heat therapy
- Joint surgery
- Medications, such as ibuprofen, COX-2 inhibitors or corticosteroids
- Injections of synthetic joint fluid
Is joint pain disrupting your life?
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