What Is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a disease that shows up as a degeneration of cartilage in your joints. It can expose and cause wear in the bone that is underneath joints. OA typically manifests as pain and stiff joints, usually in a patient's 40s. 

There are two forms of OA:

  • Ideopathic (localized)
  • Secondary: caused by trauma, congenital disorders, and problems in the metabolic, endocrine, or neuropathic systems.

Symptoms typically show up in knees, hips, and joints in the hands and/or spine.

Why Should You Care?

13.9% of Americans older than 25 have OA

  • In patients older than 65, this percentage goes up to 33.6%

​OA accounts for ~6% of all arthritis-related deaths, although this may be underestimated

  • It is also an underlying factor for 55% of arthritis-related hospitalizations

​Americans spend $7.9 billion on knee and hip replacements every year.

Patients with OA typically spend $5700 per year (as of 2000)

Job-related OA costs range from $3.4-13.2 billion per year


The specific causes for OA are unknown

  • It is thought that OA is cuased by both mechanical and molecular events in each joint that's affected

Risk Factors

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Bone deformities
  • Joint injuries
  • Obesity
  • Repetitive-stress jobs
  • Diabetes
  • Underactive thyroid
  • Gout
  • Paget's disease


​OA is characterized by a focal and progressive loss of the hyaline cartilage in joints and in changes of the underlying bone of joints. When diagnosing, doctors typically have two methods through which they identify OA: 

  • Pathology: X-ray changes (joint space narrowing, osteophytes, and bony sclerosis) over time
  • Symptoms: Pain, swelling, and stiffness


There's no known cure for OA, but it can be managed

  • Weight loss
  • Medications to manage inflammation
  • Patient education
  • Support groups
  • Surgical joint replacement
  • Surgical bone realignment
  • Fusion of bones
  • Arthroscopy


The Center for Disease Control and the Arthritis foundation have much more in-depth material for your exploration.