Osteoarthritis is a type of degenerative joint disease that can cause joint stiffness, pain, loss of range of motion and even swelling in your joints. Osteoarthritis results from the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of bones being worn down over time.
In Osteoarthritis, the slippery surface of the cartilage becomes rough so that as the cartilage wears down completely, you may be left with bone rubbing on bone. You are at greater risk for developing Osteoarthritis as you grow older, but also if you smoke or are overweight.
A special type of osteoarthritis known as ‘degenerative joint disease’ often develops in relatively younger people who have experienced joint injuries from playing sports or from an accident. Even injuries that occurred many years ago and seem to have healed can increase your risk of Osteoarthritis.
If the type of work you do places repetitive stress on a particular joint you may be a greater risk for developing OA as well.
Osteoarthritis can damage almost any joint in your body. However, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands and fingers, knees, hips, ankles, neck, lower back and spine in general. The symptoms of Osteoarthritis often develop slowly and worsen over time and can include joint pain, tenderness, stiffness, loss of flexibility and range of motion and even a grating or “cracking” sound when you use the joint. They may be most noticeable when you first wake up in the morning or when there are changes in barometric pressure from the weather pattern.