What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (os-tee-oh-are-thry-tis) is the most common type of arthritis. It affects many of us as we grow older. It is sometimes called degenerative joint disease. It is common in both men and women and affects the joints in fingers, knees, hips, feet, and back.
What causes it?
Osteoarthritis results when the cartilage in joints begins to breakdown. The breakdown of cartilage can be due to age ("wear and tear"), obesity, joint injuries, heredity, defects in joints and cartilage and repetitive movements while working.
How is it diagnosed?
Doctors diagnose osteoarthritis based on a physical exam and history of symptoms. X-rays are used to confirm the diagnosis.
How is it treated?
Treatment of osteoarthritis focuses on reducing pain and improving the movement in joints, and may include:
- Exercises to keep joints flexible and muscles strong
- Medications to control pain
- Heat/cold therapies for short term pain relief
- Surgery to relieve pain and replace damaged joints
- Injections of thick liquids into the knee joints
- Weight control to prevent stress on weight-bearing joints