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Osteoarthritis (OA)

The most common form of arthritis. It is characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage, leading to pain, stiffness, and disability.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)

About Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is seen especially among older people. It is sometimes called degenerative joint disease.

People with osteoarthritis usually have joint pain and stiffness. The most commonly affected joints are in the hands (ends of the fingers and thumbs), neck, lower back, knees, and hips. Unlike some other forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis does not affect the skin, lungs, eyes, or blood vessels. It can also occur in only one joint or can affect a joint on one side of the body much more severely.

Osteoarthritis affects each person differently. For some people, osteoarthritis is relatively mild and interferes little with day-to-day life. For others, it causes significant pain and disability. Joint damage usually develops gradually over years, although it could worsen quickly in some people....Read more about Osteoarthritis
NIH - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Occupational Exposures and Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Assessment of Medical, Social and Ethical Aspects [Internet]

Objective The objective of this review was to assess the scientific basis describing the influence of occupational exposures on osteoarthritis.

Thermotherapy (heat treatment) for treating osteoarthritis of the knee

To answer this topic, scientists found and analyzed three studies. Over 170 people with osteoarthritis continue to take their medications but used hot, cold or ice packs/towels with or without massage or no treatment. The studies were not of high quality but this Cochrane review provides the best evidence we have today.

Joint lavage for osteoarthritis of the knee

‐ may not improve pain and function compared to a sham treatment or no treatment.

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Summaries for consumers

Exercise, weight loss and osteoarthritis

Weight loss and exercise - both are often recommended to people with osteoarthritis. Losing weight can especially help people with osteoarthritis of the knee. Exercise therapies can relieve pain and improve mobility for people with knee or hip osteoarthritis. Painful osteoarthritis can make it more difficult to get enough exercise - and that can lead to weight gain. And if you gain more weight, it could make the osteoarthritis worse, especially if it affects your knees. But what results can be expected from losing weight? And what kind of exercise is suitable for people with osteoarthritis? Most of the people who took part in these studies had knee osteoarthritis. People with hip osteoarthritis only took part in the exercise therapy studies listed here.

Can lavage and debridement help with osteoarthritis of the knee?

One option for treating osteoarthritis of the knee is arthroscopy to clean the surface of the knee joint and where necessary smooth the cartilage. But studies show that this surgery has no advantages over other non-operative treatments.

Osteoarthritis: Overview

At first your knee just feels a little stiff in the morning, and then it starts hurting when you climb the stairs – lots of older people are familiar with that.

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Terms to know

Cartilage
A tough, flexible tissue that lines joints and gives structure to the nose, ears, larynx, and other parts of the body.
Joints
In medicine, the place where two or more bones are connected. Examples include the shoulder, elbow, knee, and jaw.
Rheumatologist
Doctors who diagnose and treat diseases of the bones, joints, muscles, and tendons, including arthritis and collagen diseases.
Synovial Fluid
The slippery fluid produced by the synovium (joint lining) to lubricate the joints.

More about Osteoarthritis

Photo of an adult

See Also: Rheumatoid Arthritis

Other terms to know: See all 4
Cartilage, Joints, Rheumatologist

Related articles:
Exercise, Weight, and Osteoarthritis

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