Sometimes it’s called degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis, sometimes just “OA.” Not only is it the most common cause of joint pain, but It is the most common chronic condition occurring in human joints.
Unfortunately, approximately 27 million Americans are affected by the disease. OA can alter any joint surface, it progresses slowly, but most often it occurs in the knees, hips, lower back and neck, small joints of the fingers and the bases of the thumb and big toe.
In healthy joints, there is a firm, dense covering material called cartilage. Cartilage covers the end of each bone and serves as a cushion and shock absorber for the joints.
In OA, this surface breaks down, causing swelling, pain, fluid buildup and difficulty moving the joint. In the advanced stages, Osteoarthritis will cause the breaking down of the cartilage cushion over time; bones can rub on bones with no barriers for protection.
This disruption in the cartilage integrity will cause the bones to break down and may develop growths sometimes referred to as “spurs.” Bits of bone or cartilage can also detach and float around in the joint space. All the actions of OA result in more and more pain in your joints.
Although OA occurs in people of all ages, osteoarthritis is most common in people older than 65.