Joints form where bones meet. To keep bones from wearing away when a joint is moved, each bone has a protective layer of cartilage. Osteoarthritis occurs when this layer of cartilage begins to wear away, becoming rough and causing friction between bones when the joint moves. This friction causes pain, stiffness and swelling to occur. Eventually, the cartilage can wear away completely, leaving the ends of the bones exposed.
Risk factors for osteoarthritis include:
Obesity: Extra weight places extra strain on joints, which can cause cartilage to wear away more quickly.
Older age: Years of wear and tear can take their toll on joints, and so can the natural changes that occur during the aging process.
Gender: Women have a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis compared to men.
Genetics: Some people may have a higher risk of the disease if they have family members who also suffer from it.
Repetitive motions: If your job involved repeated motion of a joint, it can cause the cartilage to wear away over time.
Joint injuries and bone deformities: Both can increase the risk of osteoarthritis.
Systemic disease: Diseases such as diabetes or rheumatic disease can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Arthritis is a degenerative disease, which means it tends to become worse over time. Symptoms may include:
Pain in the joint, especially during movement
Joint tenderness when it's touched
Stiffness in the joint, especially after a period of inactivity
Grating or scraping sensation when moving the joint
Loss of range of motion in the joint
Arthritis is typically treated with medication to reduce swelling and pain and sometimes physical therapy. In advanced cases, surgery may be needed to replace, remodel or stabilize damaged joints.
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