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Osteoarthritis (OA)

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How does a normal joint work?

A joint is where two or more bones meet. The joint allows your bones to move freely but within controlled limits. Read more >

What is osteoarthritis?

A joint is where two or more bones meet. The joint allows your bones to move freely but within controlled limits.

Read more >

What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?

Symptoms of osteoarthritis can include:

  • pain
  • stiffness
  • a grating or grinding sensation (crepitus) when you move your joint
  • hard or soft swelling
  • not being able to use your joint normally, which can make certain activities difficult (for example climbing stairs).
Read more >

What causes osteoarthritis?

Almost anyone can get osteoarthritis but it’s most likely if:

  • you’re in your late 40s or older
  • you’re a woman
  • your parents have had osteoarthritis
  • you’re overweight
  • you’ve had a previous joint injury
  • you have a physically demanding job where you make repetitive movements
  • your joints have been damaged by another disease, for example gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
Read more >

Which joints are affected by osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, but it most commonly affects the following: Read more >

What are the possible complications of osteoarthritis?

Possible complications of osteoarthritis include:

  • gout (a very painful condition caused by sodium urate crystals)
  • chondrocalcinosis (caused by calcium pyrophosphate crystals forming in your cartilage).
Read more >

What is the outlook for osteoarthritis?

It’s impossible to predict how osteoarthritis will develop for any one person. Although it can sometimes cause a lot of damage to your joints, osteoarthritis often develops over many years and results in fairly small changes in just part of your joint. It’s difficult to say how painful these changes might be for you.

Read more >

How is osteoarthritis diagnosed?

Osteoarthritis is usually diagnosed based on your symptoms and a physical examination. Your doctor may also ask you to have:

  • blood tests
  • x-rays
  • MRI scans.
Read more >

What can I do to help myself if I have osteoarthritis?

There are several ways you can help yourself, including:

  • exercising regularly
  • reducing stress on your joint by pacing activities, using a walking stick or wearing suitable footwear
  • losing weight if you’re overweight
  • using over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or low-dose ibuprofen, or pain-relieving creams, gels or sprays.
Read more >

What treatments are there for osteoarthritis?

Your treatment will vary depending on how severe your pain is. You may find that a combination of over-the-counter painkillers and self-help methods are all you need, but if your pain is severe your doctor may suggest the following treatment: Read more >

Living with osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis can affect many different areas of your life. We offer advice on:

Read more >

Research and new developments for osteoarthritis

Arthritis Research UK is funding many studies to test and find new treatments for osteoarthritis. Read more >
For more information, go to or call 0300 790 0400 to order the complete printed booklet.
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.