Osteoarthritis is caused by wearing away of the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones where they meet other bones. It can affect any joint but most commonly develops in hips, knees, spine and hands.
Cartilage is the tough, slippery coating of tissue that covers the surface of bones, helping them to move freely against one another. As we age, osteoarthritis can cause the cartilage to thin and the surface to become rougher so the joint doesn’t move as smoothly as it should. Over time, the joint may swell as a result of thickening of the lining of the joint capsule. Bony spurs (osteophytes) can form at the edge of the joint, restricting movement and causing pain. Tissues surrounding the joint may stretch causing it to become less stable. You may feel a grating sensation and hear popping or cracking in the joint.
Around 8.75 million people in the UK have sought treatment for osteoarthritis. It can have a detrimental impact on a person’s life, causing worsening pain and loss of mobility. However, there are treatments available that can help so it is important to talk to a specialist that can outline your options.