Osteoarthritis (OA or Degenerative Joint Disease) is a “wear-and-tear” condition of the protective cartilage at the end of bones – affecting millions of older people. Osteoarthritis occurs when the slick surface of the cartilage becomes rough and gradually deteriorates. Instead of the firm, slippery cartilage permitting nearly frictionless joint motion, you may experience bone rubbing on bone.
It most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips, and spine. Although it cannot be reversed, staying active and maintaining a healthy weight may slow down the progression and help improve joint function and reduce pain.
Symptoms include joint pain during or after movement. Joints may feel tender when pressured and stiff after inactivity (especially in the morning). Joints also become less flexible and you may hear or feel a grating sensation when using the joint. Hard lumps (bone deformities) may form around the affected joint.
Older, overweight females are more likely to develop osteoarthritis. Joint injuries, repetitive strain on a particular joint, and genetics also play a role.