What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It involves the wearing away of the cartilage that caps the bones in a person’s joints. With rheumatoid arthritis, the synovial membrane that protects and lubricates joints becomes inflamed, causing pain and swelling. Joint erosion may follow.


The most common symptom of osteoarthritis is pain after overuse of a joint or prolonged inactivity of a joint. Symptoms usually develop slowly over many years. The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis may include:

  • Joint pain
  • Joint stiffness, especially after sleeping or inactivity
  • Limited joint movement as the disease progresses
  • Grinding of joints when moved (in more advanced stages)


The goals of treatment for osteoarthritis are to reduce joint pain and stiffness, and improve joint movement. Treatment may include:

  • Exercise:  Regular, aerobic exercise, and stretching and strengthening exercises may help reduce symptoms and pain.
  • Heat treatment: Treating the affected joint with heat may help reduce pain.
  • Physical and occupational therapy: Physical and occupational therapy may help to reduce joint pain and improve joint flexibility when performing daily activities, plus reduce joint strain. Splints and other assistive devices may also be used.
  • Weight maintenance: Maintaining doctor-recommended weight or losing weight (if overweight) may help to prevent or reduce symptoms.
  • Medication: Medication for specific symptoms may include pain relievers and anti-inflammatories.
  • Injections: Injections of thick liquids into the joints mimics normal joint fluid.
  • Joint surgery: Surgery may be necessary to repair or replace a severely damaged joint.