Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disorder of the joints and is the most common cause of
arthritis in adults. Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), occurs because
of “wear and tear” of the joints that is often related to increased stress on the joint or injury to the
joint. However, in many cases, OA occurs simply in relation to aging. In osteoarthritis, the
cartilage that protects the edges of our bones wears away and causes irritation of the underlying
bone. As a result, moving the joint becomes more painful. Risk factors for OA include obesity,
heredity, joint injury, and increased stress on the joint. Symptoms of OA include joint stiffness
that improves with exercise, pain that worsens with use of the joint, and possibly joint
enlargement. The knee is the most commonly affected joint in OA, but joints of the hands, feet,
hips, and spine may also be involved. Treatment is largely aimed at relieving pain associated
with OA. Initial treatments include weight loss, physical therapy and exercises, and joint braces.
Therapeutic medications include acetaminophen, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, and topical
medicines. Patients may receive steroid or viscous injections in a single joint for temporary
relief. If these interventions are not helpful, a patient may be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon
for further management and possible surgery.