Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Osteoarthritis Overview

What is osteoarthritis?
A person with osteoarthritis has inflammation and damage to the cartilage that lines the joints. Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the joints that support the weight of the body, such as the hips, knees, ankles, and spine. The cause for osteoarthritis is unknown, but aging, obesity, joint injury, joint stress, heredity, and muscle weakness seem to play a role. Osteoarthritis usually starts in middle age, and it is the leading cause of disability in those over the age of 65.

What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?
Symptoms of osteoarthritis include joint pains in the lower extremities: ankle pain, knee pain, hip pain, and lower back pain. Joint pains worsen with activity and tend to be worse at the end of the day. Additional symptoms of osteoarthritis may include mild joint swelling, joint stiffness, decreased range of motion, and joint tenderness. Longstanding osteoarthritis can cause deformed finger joints.

How does the doctor treat osteoarthritis?
Treatment for osteoarthritis includes warm compresses, exercise, muscle strengthening, and weight loss. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and corticosteroid medications reduce pain and swelling. The treatment for severe osteoarthritis may include joint replacement surgery.

Continue to Osteoarthritis Incidence

Last Updated: Aug 20, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Osteoarthritis References
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  3. Leirisalo-Repo M. Early arthritis and infection. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2005 Jul;17(4):433-9. [15956840]
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  5. Quinn MA, Emery P. Are early arthritis clinics necessary? Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2005 Feb;19(1):1-17. [15588968]
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