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Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It causes pain, swelling, and reduced motion in your joints. It can occur in any joint, but usually affects your hands, knees, hips, or spine.

Osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage – the slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint. Healthy cartilage absorbs the shock of movement. When you lose cartilage, your bones rub together. Over time, this rubbing can permanently damage the joint.

Osteoarthritis symptoms develop slowly and worsen over time. Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis :

  • Pain - Your joint may hurt during or after movement
  • Tenderness - Your joint may feel tender when you apply light pressure to it
  • Stiffness - Joint stiffness may be most noticeable when you wake up in the morning
  • Loss of flexibility - You may not be able to move your joint through its full range of motion

Treatments vary and may include the following or any combination of these:

  • Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and steroid injections
  • Physical therapy and daily exercises
  • Diet and nutrition- watch your diet
  • Special tools and aides when your joints hurt (ie long handled grabbers and jar openers).
  • Joint replacement surgery. If you and your doctor decide that this is the best plan.

Make exercise part of your life. Gentle exercise can lessen your pain. A physical therapist can review with you the best exercises to do to keep your joints moving without too much strain. Watch your weight and talk to your doctor about the best medication regimen to control your pain.