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What does idiopathic osteoarthritis mean?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
Idiopathic osteoarthritis means that there is no specific cause for the joint breakdown. This occurs in the vast majority of osteoarthritis cases. Idiopathic osteoarthritis is also called primary osteoarthritis. Secondary osteoarthritis occurs more rarely and happens as a result of another condition, such as when arthritis is caused by too much iron in the blood (hemochromatosis), which can damage joints.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Idiopathic osteoarthritis doesn't mean you're an idiot. It's doctor talk for osteoarthritis (OA) that doesn’t have any identifiable cause, such as an injury to the joint. As far as we can tell, idiopathic OA just happens. Idiopathic OA is also sometimes called primary osteoarthritis. OA that does have a cause is sometimes called secondary 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.