Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition that affects the whole joint including bone, cartilage, ligaments and muscles.
Osteoarthritis may include:
- inflammation of the tissue around a joint
- damage to joint cartilage – this is the protective cushion on the ends of your bones which allows a joint to move smoothly
- bony spurs growing around the edge of a joint
- deterioration of ligaments (the tough bands that hold your joints together) and tendons (cords that attach muscles to bones)
Osteoarthritis can affect any joint but occurs most often in the knees, hips, finger joints and big toe.
Osteoarthritis can develop at any age but tends to be more common in people aged over 40 years or those who have had joint injuries.
Osteoarthritis is different to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become fragile and brittle, causing them to break more easily.