Learn more about OA

What is osteoarthritis?

OA is a frequently slowly progressive joint disease typically seen in middle-aged to elderly people.  In osteoarthritis, the cartilage between the bones in the joint breaks down. This causes the affected bones to slowly get bigger. The joint cartilage often breaks down because of mechanical stress or biochemical changes within the body, causing the bone underneath to fail. OA can occur together with other types of arthritis, such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis.

How is osteoarthritis diagnosed?

Rheumatologists are doctors who are experts in diagnosing and treating arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bones. You may also need to see other health care providers, for instance, physical or occupational therapists and orthopedic doctors. Most often doctors detect OA based on the typical symptoms (described earlier) and on results of the physical exam. In some cases, X-rays or other imaging tests may be useful to tell the extent of disease or to help rule out other joint problems.

Who gets osteoarthritis?
OA affects people of all races and both sexes. Most often, it occurs in patients age 40 and above. However, it can occur sooner if you have other risk factors (things that raise the risk of getting OA).

How do you treat osteoarthritis?

There is no proven treatment yet that can reverse joint damage from OA. The goal of osteoarthritis treatment is to reduce pain and improve function of the affected joints. Most often, this is possible with a mixture of physical measures and drug therapy and, sometimes, surgery.