Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis that afflicts joints and literally means inflammation of a joint. OA is described by inflammation and degeneration of the cartilage (hyaline) that protects the articular surfaces of the joint, usually the knee joint. It is important to note that this cartilage provides a cushion and thus plays an important role in dissipating load forces and also protecting the underlying bone. If damaged, it, over a period of time, leads to exposing the bone and the growth of bone spurs (osteophytes). Accordingly, it leads to a viscous cycle of pain <-> inflammation <-> damage.
It is a fact that most adults over a period of their life times will develop OA. Research has identified the following factors that predispose to this disabling disease:
Subjects suffering from OA complain primarily of pain, joint stiffness after long periods of inactivity, "catching" or "locking" of joints, and a feeling of grinding. The common signs associated with it are pain, tenderness, warmth, loss of range of motion, decreased muscle strength and functional disability such as problems walking, getting up, running etc. Severe cases of OA will need to resort to joint replacements