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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 40's.

  • OA has also been called Degenerative Joint Disease, and is the most common form of arthritis. 
  • There are two forms of OA:
    • Idiopathic (localized):
    • Secondary: caused by trauma, congenital disorders, and problems in the metabolic, endocrine, or neuropathic systems.
  • Symptoms typically show up in:
    • Knees
    • Hips
    • Joints in hands
    • Joints in 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, though this may be underestimated
    • It also is 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's thought that OA is caused 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 in 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)
    • Symptoms: Pain, swelling, and stiffness


  • There's no cure for osteoarthritis, but it can be managed
  • Weight loss
  • Medications to manage inflammation
  • Patient education                 
  • Support groups
  • Surgical joint replacement 
  • Surgical bone realignment
  • Fusion of bones


  • While there are no support groups in the Kenosha or Gurnee areas, the Center for Disease Control has some really in-depth support material. In addition, the Arthritis Foundation has several online support groups as well as information regarding coping with arthritis

* CIS does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The content is for informational purposes only. 

Source: Center for Disease Control

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