What You Need to Know About Osteoarthritis

What Causes It?

What causes osteoarthritis? Researchers do not know the exact cause or causes of the disease. Growing older is what most often puts you at risk of developing it. Other than that, scientists think the cause depends on which part of the body is involved. For example, osteoarthritis in the hands or hips may run in families. Knee osteoarthritis can be linked with being overweight. Injuries or overuse may cause the disease in joints such as the knees, hips, or hands.
 
(Click Causes of Osteoarthritis for more information on the risk factors associated with this disease.)
 

Symptoms

Osteoarthritis symptoms can range from stiffness and mild pain that comes and goes with activities like walking, bending, or stooping -- to severe joint pain that keeps on even when you rest or try to sleep. Sometimes osteoarthritis causes your joints to feel stiff when you haven't moved them in a while, such as after riding in the car. But the stiffness goes away when you move the joint. Over time, osteoarthritis can also cause problems moving joints -- and sometimes disability -- if your back, knees, or hips are affected.
 
Unlike some other forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis affects only joints and not internal organs. One example of a type of arthritis that affects other parts of the body besides the joints is rheumatoid arthritis (which is the second-most-common form of arthritis). Rheumatoid arthritis -- which begins at a younger age than osteoarthritis does -- causes swelling and redness in joints, and may also make people feel sick, tired, and feverish (though this is rare).
 
(Click Osteoarthritis Symptoms for more information on possible symptoms of this condition, as well as some specific symptoms of osteoarthritis by location.)
 
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Osteoarthritis Explained

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