Osteoarthritis (OA), also called degenerative joint disease (DJD) or osteoarthrosis, occurs when the cartilage in the joints begins to break down. The cartilage serves as a cushion between bones, allowing the joint to move without pain. Therefore, individuals with osteoarthritis experience pain and reduced mobility in their joints where cartilage is degrading. Osteoarthritis may affect any joint in the body.
The term arthritis literally means joint inflammation or swelling. More than 100 different disease fall under the general category of arthritis. Arthritis conditions affect the joints, the tissues surrounding the affected joints, and other connective tissues. Common forms of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and periarthritis.
As the disease progresses, crevices and bone spurs, called oseophytes, may develop within the affected joint, increasing pain and decreasing mobility.
It is estimated that 40 million Americans and 70-90% of persons older than 75 years are affected by osteoarthritis. Although symptoms of osteoarthritis occur earlier in women (around the ages of 50-55), the prevalence among men and women is equal in older ages. In addition to age, risk factors include joint injury, obesity, and mechanical stress (such as joint stress when pitching a baseball or playing tennis).
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