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What is arthritis?
Arthritis means inflammation of the joints. It causes pain and usually also limits movement of the joints that are affected. There are many kinds of arthritis. A type called osteoarthritis is the most common.
What causes osteoarthritis?
The exact cause isn't known. A person may be at increased risk of osteoarthritis because it runs in the family. Osteoarthritis seems to be related to the wear and tear put on joints over the years in most people. But wear and tear alone don't cause osteoarthritis.
What happens when a joint is affected?
Normally, a smooth layer of cartilage acts as a pad between the bones of a joint. Cartilage helps the joint move easily and comfortably. In some people, the cartilage thins as the joints are used. This is the start of osteoarthritis. Over time, the cartilage wears away and the bones may rub against one another.
Bones may even start to grow too thick on the ends where they meet to make a joint, and bits of cartilage and bone may loosen and get in the way of movement. This can cause pain, joint swelling and stiffness.
Tips on staying active
Lose weight if you're overweight.
Exercise regularly for short periods.
Go to a physical therapist if you can.
Avoid lifting heavy things.
Avoid overusing your joints.
Don't pull on objects to move them--push them instead.
Take your medicine the way your doctor suggests.
Use heat and/or cold to reduce pain or stiffness.