Content Supplied by NHS Choices

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes the joints to become painful and stiff. It is the most common type of arthritis in the UK.

Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes the joints to become painful and stiff. It is the most common type of arthritis in the UK.

The severity of osteoarthritis symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, and between different affected joints. For some people, the symptoms may be mild and may come and go, whereas others can experience more continuous and severe problems.

Almost any joint can be affected by osteoarthritis, but the condition most often causes problems in the knees, hips, and small joints of the hands.

The pain and stiffness in the joints can make carrying out everyday activities difficult for some people with the condition.

Read more about the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

When to seek medical advice

You should see your GP if you have persistent symptoms of osteoarthritis so they can try to identify the cause.

To help determine whether you have osteoarthritis, your GP will ask you about your symptoms and examine your joints.

Read more about diagnosing osteoarthritis.

What causes osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis occurs when there is damage in and around the joints that the body cannot fully repair.

It's not clear exactly why this happens in some people, although your chances of developing the condition can be influenced by a number of factors, such as your age and weight.

Osteoarthritis usually develops in people over 45 years of age, although younger people can also be affected.

It is commonly thought that osteoarthritis is an inevitable part of getting older, but this is not quite true. You may in fact be able to reduce your chances of developing the condition by doing regular, gentle exercises and maintaining a healthy weight.

Read more about the causes of osteoarthritis and preventing osteoarthritis.

Managing osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a long-term condition and can't be cured, but it doesn't necessarily get any worse over time and it can sometimes gradually improve. A number of treatments are also available to reduce the symptoms.

Mild symptoms can sometimes be managed with simple measures including regular exercise, losing weight if you are overweight, wearing suitable footwear and using special devices to reduce the strain on your joints during your everyday activities.

If your symptoms are more severe, you may need additional treatments such as painkilling medication and a structured exercise plan carried out under the supervision of a physiotherapist.

In a small number of cases, where the above treatments haven't helped or the damage to the joints is particularly severe, surgery may be carried out to repair, strengthen or replace a damaged joint.

Read more about treating osteoarthritis.

Living with osteoarthritis

As osteoarthritis is a long-term condition, it is important you get the right support to help you cope with any issues such as reduced mobility and advice on any necessary financial support.

As well as support from your healthcare team, it is important to look after your own health and wellbeing. This includes taking your medicine regularly and adopting as healthy a lifestyle as possible.

Some people may also find it helpful to talk to their GP or others who are living with the same condition as there may be questions or worries you want to share.

Read more about living with osteoarthritis.


Content Supplied by NHS Choices

Osteoarthritis

With the right support, you can lead a healthy, active life with osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis doesn’t necessarily get worse and doesn’t always lead to disability.


Talk to others

Many people find it helpful to talk to other people who are in a similar position to them. You may find support from a group or by talking individually to someone who has osteoarthrits.

Patient organisations have local groups where you can meet other people with the same condition.

The Arthritis Care helpline is open 10am to 4pm weekdays. Call free on 0808 800 4050. You can also email them at Helplines@arthritiscare.org.uk.

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Your feelings

A diagnosis of osteoarthritis can initially be confusing and overwhelming. Like many people with a long-term health condition, those who find out they have osteoarthritis may feel anxious or depressed. But there are people you can talk to who can help, including your GP or support groups.

Want to know more?

Work and money

If you have severe osteoarthritis and are still working, your symptoms may interfere with your working life and may affect your ability to do your job. Arthritis Care has useful advice on how you can make simple adjustments at work to make it easier to do your job (see below).

If you have to stop work or work part time because of your arthritis, you may find it hard to cope financially. You may be entitled to one or more of the following types of financial suppor:

You may be eligible for other benefits if you have children living at home or if you have a low household income.

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