Osteoarthritis — also called degenerative joint disease — is the most common form of arthritis.
It occurs most often in middle-aged to elderly people when the protective cartilage on the ends of the bones wears down over time. It can occur in any joint of the body, though it typically appears in the hands, knees, hips and spine.
Overview and Symptoms
The condition usually has no specific cause but is exacerbated by excess weight and overuse injuries such as torn cartilage, dislocated joints and ligament injuries and inflammation (as with rheumatoid arthritis) can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain, tenderness, stiffness and inflammation.
It’s often a slow-developing disease and is typically diagnosed once painful symptoms arise. The diagnosis of osteoarthritis is generally straightforward and is based on symptoms, physical examination and x-rays.
Treatment often involves medication for relief from pain, swelling and stiffness; low-impact exercise; and, if excess weight is a factor, weight loss. Injected medications (such as corticosteroids) may be helpful. In the most serious cases, joint replacement surgery may be advised.
The Arthritis Center at BIDMC provides world-class care with
latest technologies to help patients with joint conditions.
Learn MoreThe Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology provides leading-edge, compassionate care to patients with rheumatic diseases and other disorders of the joints, muscles and ligaments.