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Is osteoarthritis a problem of joint growth or decay?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a joint problem all right, but it's not caused by joint growth or joint decay. It's caused by a breakdown of the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones where they meet in joints. As the cartilage breaks down, the bones start to rub against each other, causing pain, swelling and stiffness in the joint. Although we still don't know why the cartilage breaks down to cause OA, we do know that people tend to get OA as they get older, perhaps simply from wear and tear on the joints.

On the other hand, not everyone gets arthritis with age, so other factors are probably at work. Being overweight or obese puts extra stress on your joints, and old joint injuries, even if they didn't seem serious at the time, can cause osteoarthritis later on. Muscle weakness around the knee often leads to osteoarthritis there. Some people have a genetic tendency toward osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a problem of joint decay. The joints begin to decay because the cartilage that supports and cushions the joints of the hands, spine, hips and knees wears away, causing bones to rub against each other. The rubbing causes pain, swelling and loss of motion in the joint.

This may cause the joint to lose its normal shape, and bone spurs may grow on the edges of the joint. Bits of bone or cartilage can break off and float inside the joint space, which causes more pain and damage. Depending on the severity of the pain, medication and physical therapy may be able to minimize it. If these methods don't work, joint replacement surgery may be necessary.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common age-related problem of cartilage decay, inflammation, joint capsule thickening, and bony remodeling. OA is a problem of both growth and decay, but cartilage decay is the main culprit for the disabling pain. Cartilage is the tissue that acts as padding between bone ends to stop bones from pounding against each other under weighted loads. Female sex, prior joint injuries, family history, and obesity are risk factors for the development of OA.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.