Osteoarthritis is a common chronic joint disease, causing large amounts of disability and pain in the Australian community. There are a number of risk factors for osteoarthritis including excess weight or obesity, joint injury, a family history of osteoarthritis, repetitive kneeling or squatting and repetitive heavy lifting.
Three key characteristics of osteoarthritis are:
- mild inflammation of the tissues in and around the joints
- damage to cartilage, the strong, smooth surface that lines the bones and allows joints to move easily and without friction
- bony growths that develop around the edge of the joints
Osteoarthritis mostly occurs in the knees, hips and small joints of the hands and base of the big toe. However, almost any joint can be affected.
If you think you may have osteoarthritis then you should see your doctor. There is no definitive test to diagnose the condition, so they will ask you about your symptoms and examine your joints and muscles.
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Last reviewed: June 2018