What is Osteoarthritis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

What is Osteoarthritis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments hover background

Feb 28

What is Osteoarthritis?

 what is osteoarthritis

Affecting more than 20 million people in the United States alone, Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis.  One in two people struggle with its effects and it is more common in women than in men.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a joint disease mostly affecting cartilage—the slippery tissue covering the ends of bones in a joint.  When your cartilage is healthy, it allows bones to glide over each other with ease.  In osteoarthritis, the top layer of cartilage breaks down and wears away which allows the bones underneath to rub together.  As time goes on, the joint may lose its original shape, bone spurs may grow, or bits of bone or cartilage can break off and float inside the joint space, causing even more pain and damage.

The Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

  • Joint pain and inflammation
  • Joint stiffness after periods of inactivity such as sleeping or sitting
  • Joint tenderness
  • Bone spurs
  • Limited range of motion
  • A crunching feeling or the sound of bones rubbing against each other

Where do these symptoms appear?

Knees—knees are weight-bearing joints so they are commonly affected by osteoarthritis.  Your joints may feel stiff, swollen and painful.  It may be difficult to walk, climb and get in and out of the sitting position or lying down.

Fingers and Hands—the base of the thumb joint is commonly affected and becomes stiff, numb and painful.

Spine—osteoarthritis of the spine can cause stiffness and pain in the neck or in the lower back.

Hips—if you have osteoarthritis in your hips, you can experience pain, stiffness and severe disability.  Because the hips support the weight of the body and help your lower body to move, it can lead to difficulty moving, walking and bending.

Causes of Osteoarthritis

Although the cause of osteoarthritis is unknown, some factors may include:

  • Extra Weight
  • Aging
  • Heredity
  • Sports injuries
  • Gender
  • Joint Alignment
  • Overuse from physical labor


Treatment of Osteoarthritis

Your physical therapist will work with you to fit your needs, lifestyle and health.  The goal of osteoarthritis treatment is to improve joint function, control pain, and achieve a healthy lifestyle.  Treatment plans can involve exercise, rest and joint care, medicine, and in some instances may require surgery.

If you are experiencing any joint pain, stiffness and swelling that will not go away, call our physical therapy office today, or talk with your doctor.  The sooner you learn more about your condition, the sooner you can receive treatment and relieve symptoms.  


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21321 E. Ocotillo Rd., Suite 122
Queen Creek, AZ 85142
Ph: 480.987.1870
F: 480.987.9289

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Phoenix, AZ 85029
Ph: 602.866.2231
F: 602.866.2261