Osteoarthritis (OA) is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage—the part of a joint that cushions the ends of the bones and allows easy movement. As cartilage deteriorates, bones begin to rub against one another. This can cause stiffness and pain that make it difficult for you to use that joint.
The knees, hips, hands and/or feet are the most common places to experience pain from osteoarthritis.
Usually joints affected by osteoarthritis ache or become painful or stiff first thing in the morning, or during or after use. They may also be stiff after periods of inactivity.
Despite the fact that 27 million Americans experience the disease, the causes of osteoarthritis are not completely understood. Many different factors may play a role in whether or not you get OA, including age, obesity, injury or overuse of your joints, genetics or heredity, and/or muscle weakness.
There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but you may be able to alleviate your symptoms: