Why does osteoarthritis cause disability?

Osteoarthritis (OA) causes disability because it wears away cartilage that supports the joints of the hands, spine, hips and knees. This leads to debilitating pain as the bones begin rubbing against one another and can interfere with a person's ability to work and perform otherwise normal activities such as standing up after spending a few hours in a seated position.

Osteoarthritis can also damage muscles and ligaments. People who have osteoarthritis sometimes feel depressed and helpless because of their limitations, which can also be disabling. Medication and physical therapy can help. If all else fails, joint replacement surgery can often help people with OA regain their independence.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Osteoarthritis (OA) can cause severe pain and limit joint motions, sometimes to the point where it becomes disabling. That usually means that you can no longer perform the normal activities of daily living, such as climbing up a flight of stairs, bending down, walking a quarter mile, or even getting dressed by yourself.

But keep this all in perspective: Most people with OA don't become disabled by it. And you can take many steps, exercising and losing weight, for example, that will help you keep your osteoarthritis manageable and prevent disability down the road.

Disability is a common result of years of degenerating joints that cause pain, restrict mobility, and limit daily activities such as work. Osteoarthritis is known to cause disability in later life. There are ways to avoid or slow down the disabling effects of osteoarthritis with pain medications, exercise, physical therapy, and surgery. It usually takes years for osteoarthritis to become severe, but in some cases it can progress quickly. There are varying degrees of disability. Only a doctor can diagnose you with a disability related to osteoarthritis.

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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.