Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Sometimes called degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis. It can affect any joint, but it tends to occur most frequently in the hands, hips, knees, lower back, and neck. The cartilage within a joint begins to break down and the underly bone begins to change. Osteoarthritis can happen at any age, but it most often affects middle-age to elderly people and affects women more than men.


Symptoms of osteoarthritis may include:

  • Pain or aching in the joint during activity, after long activity or at the end of the day
  • Joint stiffness usually occurs first thing in the morning or after resting
  • Limited range of motion that may go away after movement
  • Clicking or cracking sound when a joint bends
  • Swelling around a joint
  • Muscle weakness around the joint
  • Joint instability or buckling


Osteoarthritis is caused by damage or breakdown of joint cartilage between bones. However, scientist now see osteoarthritis as a disease of the joint. Below are some causes that may contribute to osteoarthritis:

  • The risk of developing osteoarthritis increases as someone gets older because bones, muscles and joints are also aging
  • A break or tear in the cartilage from an injury that can lead to osteoarthritis after years of the injury
  • Using the same joints over and over in a job or sport
  • Extra weight puts more stress on a joint and fats cells promote inflammation
  • Not having enough support around joints
  • Misaligned joint
  • People with family members who have osteoarthritis are more likely to develop osteoarthritis
  • Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than men


There is no cure or proven treatment yet that can reverse joint damage from osteoarthritis. The goal of osteoarthritis treatment is to help ease paint and improve function of the affected joints. If other treatment options have not been effective, a damage joint can be surgically replaced. Your Rheumatologist will treat osteoarthritis symptoms with a combination of therapies:

  • Physical therapy for muscle and joint strengthening exercises to increase range of motion and improve joint stability
  • Physical therapy for gait training
  • Weight loss
  • Medications, including over-the-counter pain relievers and prescription drugs
  • Supportive devices such as canes or walkers