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Understanding Osteoarthritis

If you’re living with osteoarthritis (a condition that causes joint pain and stiffness), you’re not alone. Most people will develop this common condition at some point in their lives. Osteoarthritis results when a joint begins to wear out. One or more joints in the body may be affected. The tendency to develop this condition may run in your family. Or it may be caused by an injury you had years ago. Your doctor can determine whether you have osteoarthritis or another type of joint problem that needs a different kind of treatment.

Cartilage, bone, and synovial membrane

How Joints Work

A joint is a place where two bones meet. The parts of a joint help the bones move easily. Cartilage is smooth tissue that cushions the ends of bones, letting them slide against each other. The synovial membrane surrounds the joint. It makes a fluid that lubricates the joint.

 

 

Worn, damaged cartilage, bony spur, and inflamed synovial membrane

When a Joint Wears Out

Through long use or injury, or because of a family tendency, the cartilage can become rough and damaged. It starts to wear unevenly. The ends of the bones then rub together, causing stiffness, pain, and sometimes swelling. Bony spurs may grow, enlarging the joint. The muscles around the joint may weaken

Online Medical Reviewer: Barrus, Bryan, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Marian, Valentin, MD
Last Review Date: 2/9/2012
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