Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, OA, and osteoarthrosis is the most common form of arthritis. It causes pain, swelling and reduced motion in your joints. It can occur in any joint, but usually it affects your hands, knees, hips or spine.
Osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage in your joints. Cartilage is the slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint. Healthy cartilage absorbs the shock of movement. When you lose cartilage, your bones rub together. Over time, this rubbing can permanently damage the joint.
Factors that may cause osteoarthritis include: Being overweight; getting older and injuring a joint. Therapies that manage osteoarthritis pain and improve function include exercise, weight control, rest, pain relief, alternative therapies and surgery.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/osteoarthritis.html