Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis. It is a chronic condition in which the material that cushions the joints, called cartilage, breaks down. This causes the bones to rub against each other, causing stiffness, pain and loss of joint movement. Common symptoms are sore or stiff joints, particularly the hips, knees, and lower back, but osteoarthritis may also affect the neck, small finger joints, the base of the thumb, ankle, and big toe. The pain may be moderate and come and go, without affecting the ability to perform daily tasks. Some people’s OA will never progress past this early stage. Others will have their OA get worse. The pain and stiffness of more severe osteoarthritis may make it difficult to walk, climb stairs, sleep, or perform other daily tasks.
About 27 million people in the United States have osteoarthritis. The cause is not fully understood and no cure exists but osteoarthritis treatments can slow the progression of the disease, relieve pain and improve joint function. Common risk factors include increasing age, obesity, previous joint injury, overuse of the joint, weak thigh muscles, and genetics.