Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and while it affects a large percentage of people over 60, problems of osteoarthritis can also often be found in younger people.
People frequently see osteoarthritis as being a progressive and disabling disease but for many, symptoms are mild and cause only temporary and occasional problems.
Osteoarthritis is a condition involving the breakdown of the protective cushion of the cartilage covering the ends of the bones where two bones meet to form a joint.
What happens in osteoarthritis?
The current thinking is that osteoarthritis is due to changes within the cells of the cartilage which lead to a loss of elasticity. These changes, in turn, lead to splits in the cartilage and inflammation of joint lining.
Over a period of time, the cartilage thins and the joint loses its smooth functioning. The bone loses shape and thickens at the end to produce bony spurs called osteophytes.
The terms degenerative and secondary arthritis are sometimes used as osteoarthritic changes are more likely to occur when there has been previous injury, unrecognised defects in the structure of the joint or poorly healed sporting injuries.
In Part 2 of our blog on Osteoarthritis learn about the symptoms and affects of Osteoarthritic change. Press this link to read the blog