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What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that features the breakdown and eventual loss of the cartilage of one or more joints. Cartilage is a protein substance that serves as a "cushion" between the bones of the joints. Among the over 100 different types of arthritis conditions, osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease. Osteoarthritis occurs more frequently as we age. Before age 45, osteoarthritis occurs more frequently in males. After 55 years of age, it occurs more frequently in females. In the United States, all races appear equally affected. A higher incidence of osteoarthritis exists in the Japanese population, while South-African blacks, East Indians, and Southern Chinese have lower rates. Osteoarthritis is abbreviated as OA or referred to as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease (DJD).

Osteoarthritis commonly affects the hands, feet, spine, and large weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees. Osteoarthritis usually has no known cause and is referred to as primary osteoarthritis. When the cause of the osteoarthritis is known, the condition is referred to as secondary osteoarthritis.

Return to Osteoarthritis (OA)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Renuka g., 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: March 18

I have knee joint pain for last 2 months. Doctor suggested x-ray and found gap between joints was less at inner side of both the legs. Doctor suggested to put lubrication through viscosupplementation injection in the knee. He is not confident this is a guaranteed solution for my knee osteoarthritis. He also suggested that I lose weight.

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Comment from: lena, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 25

I am 46 years old and I have always had issues with my knees for as long as I can remember. I could tell when it was going to storm or just rain. January of 2014, knee pain has progressed to severe. I could barely walk. I went to doctors and had steroid injections, but no help. Next step I had Synvisc, no help or relief. I did therapy and nothing again. I had MRI done and yes, no cartilage at all behind knee caps. Both knee caps are shot. But the doctor won't do surgery because he says I'm too young. I have no medicine regimes. He just told me I'm unable to work due the severity of osteoarthritis in knees. As to pain, well, he said I just need to work through it on my own. Now I'm raising my twins of which one has hip issues, and out of my 2 granddaughters one is medically challenged. They are 4 and 5. I am very tired of pain and not being able to function like a normal person. I don't sleep very much due to pain. I can't do grocery shopping, if I do I'm laid up for a few days with severe pain and swelling of knees. Now elbows are doing same thing and my lower back kills when doing simple things like dishes or fixing meals.

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Comment from: marinemom3025, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 26

I was diagnosed years ago with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. For me it was passed down by my parents. My hands are deformed now and I suffer great pain, now it is in my spine and my knees too. I was on chemotherapy for almost 2 years. It did nothing but cause me more grief, I got drop foot from using the chemotherapy. I"m now looking for a new doctor, I know there is no cure but surely there must be something we can do to stop the horrible pain and swelling in our joints!

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