Osteoarthritis (OA), also called degenerative arthritis, is a degenerative joint disease that can affect any joint in the body. OA is most common in knees, hips, spine, neck, hands, fingers, the base of the thumbs, and the big toes, causing affected joints to feel sore, achy, and stiff. Read more about osteoarthritis symptoms below.
Osteoarthritis happens when the cushioning cartilage between the joints breaks down and becomes rough. In a normally functioning joint, cartilage (the firm, rubbery material that covers the end of each bone) acts as a smooth barrier between the two meeting joints allowing the joints to glide smoothly.
Signs, symptoms, and early indicators of osteoarthritis vary depending on the joint affected by OA and how far it has progressed. Common symptoms of OA include:
- Sore, tender, painful, aching joints
- Stiff joints after resting or first thing in the morning
- Loss or inability to move
- Swelling or inflammation inside the joint
- Grinding, creaking, crunching or grating feeling in the joint
- Weakness, muscle loss or unstable joints
Osteoarthritis can make it difficult to do everyday tasks like walking up or down stairs, getting out of cars, playing guitar or other fine motor skill tasks, and can make sleeping uncomfortable.
Physiotherapy for osteoarthritis can:
- Ease sore, painful, aching joints
- Increase range of motion in stiff joints
- Reduce swelling and inflammation
- Relieve pain without medication
Strengthen muscles around the affected joint.