Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis degenerative joint disease, OA, or osteoarthrosis, is a form of arthritis caused by inflammation, breakdown, and the eventual loss of cartilage in the joints - the cartilage wears down over time.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. According to the National Health Service, UK, approximately 8.5 million people are affected by the condition. The Arthritis Foundation, USA, says that about 27 million Americans are affected.

Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease; signs and symptoms gradually worsen over time. There is no cure. However, available therapies may help with pain and swelling (inflammation), as well as keeping the patient mobile and active. Experts say that patients who take steps to actively manage their osteoarthritis are more likely to gain control over their symptoms.

Any joint in the body may be affected. However, the disease is most likely to affects the patient's:

Hands, Hips, Knees, Lower back, Neck.

Osteoarthritis has three characteristics:

Bony growths develop around the edge of joints.

It damages cartilage - Cartilage is the part of the joint that cushions the ends of the bones and allows easy movement of joints.

Synovitis - there is mild inflammation of the tissues around the joints.

How is osteoarthritis diagnosed?

Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint. It occurs most often in the hands, knees, hips, and spine.

Warning signs of osteoarthritis are:

Stiffness in a joint after getting out of bed or sitting for a long time

Swelling or tenderness in one or more joints

A crunching feeling or the sound of bone rubbing on bone.

No single test can diagnose osteoarthritis. Most doctors use several methods to diagnose the disease and rule out other problems:

Medical history, Physical exam, X-rays, Other tests such as blood tests or exams of the fluid in the joints.