The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is also known as OA, degenerative joint disease or osteoarthrosis. It is usually associated with aging or with older people, but in fact, young people can also develop osteoarthritis, especially those who may damage their joints through injury or repetitious use.
Osteoarthritis results from the breakdown of cartilage in the joints, leading to pain and stiffness. Cartilage covers the ends of bones, acting as a cushion and allowing the bones to move properly. When cartilage breaks down, the ends of bones may rub together, causing pain, stiffness and decreased mobility.
Osteoarthritis occurs most frequently in the joints of the knees, hips, hands, fingers, neck and spine. Usually, OA does not affect the same joint on both sides of the body – one knee, for example, instead of both knees. However, some people do develop OA in the same joint on both sides of the body.
If you have OA, it’s important to strike a balance between overexertion and inactivity, and get regular exercise to keep muscles strong enough to support your damaged joints. Weakened muscles, particularly those around weight-bearing joints like the knee, can cause OA or worsen existing damage in the joint.