Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and is characterized by pain in the joint, stiffness, and even loss of movement. It is a degenerative joint disease and slowly evolves as part of the aging process. Osteoarthritis has been around for a very long time, going back as far as the dinosaur bones and Egyptian mummies which show evidence of the disease. The disease is classified as a non-inflammatory type of arthritis; but recent research shows this not to be true. Early on in the disease inflammation is usually not a problem; but as the cartilage starts to wear away and fragment, the loose pieces of cartilage cause an immune response and inflammation.
Osteoarthritis can be caused by an injury to the joint, repetitive strain on a joint, or it can be passed on through our genes. The joints most commonly affected with the disease are the hands, the hips, the lower back, knees and the big toes.
Pain is the most predominant feature of osteoarthritis. Early in the disease, pain will accompany movement, is aggravated by prolonged activity, and can be made better with rest. Pain is often caused by stretching of the lining of the bone at the sites of new bone growth. The pain could also be from nerve irritation or compression.