What is osteoarthritis?
Arthritis is often thought of as a single disease. In fact, it is an umbrella term for more than 100 medical conditions that affect the joints and surrounding connective tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments).
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis affects all parts of a whole joint, including bone, cartilage, ligaments and muscles. In osteoarthritis, you may get:
- inflammation of the tissue around a joint
- damage to joint cartilage – this is the protective tissue on the ends of your bones which allows your joints to move smoothly
- bony growths around the edge of a joint
- changes to ligaments and tendons that can cause pain.
Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, but most commonly occurs in knees, hips, big toes and fingers.
People of all ages can develop osteoarthritis but it is most common in people over 40 years of age or those who have had joint injuries.
Osteoarthritis that develops slowly and progressively in a previously healthy joint is known as ‘primary’ osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis in joints that have been injured or damaged is called ‘secondary’ osteoarthritis.