Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis, affecting more than 27 million Americans. Symptoms usually occur later in life, although they can appear as early as in your 30s and 40s.
OA involves a breakdown of the joint’s articular cartilage. Cartilage is the cushioning part of our joint surfaces that help with ease of motion. When the cartilage wears away, it causes the bones to rub against each other, causing stiffness, pain and swelling. This process occurs over a long period of time, although symptoms can come on suddenly.
Arthritis can limit everyday activities such as walking, dressing, bathing and household chores. It can also limit the ability to do recreational activities. Joints most commonly affected by OA include hips, knees and shoulders. When these joints become arthritic, they will undergo changes that decrease the range of motion and cause difficulty with normal function.