Arthritis is a general term covering numerous conditions where the joint surface cartilage wears out. It is also called osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. This disease affects cartilage, the tissue that cushions and protects the ends of bones in a joint and allows smooth, pain free movement in the joint. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage starts to wear away over time. This causes joint pain and limits a person's normal range of motion. As the disease progresses, the cartilage can completely wear away causing bone-on-bone contact.
Arthritic symptoms generally include swelling, pain, tenderness, aching, limitation of joint motion and/or early morning stiffness. Arthritis is diagnosed by a combination of physical examination, medical history and x-ray or other clinical study. Treatment options include rest, avoidance of vigorous weight bearing activities, and the use of anti inflammatory medications. With worsening symptoms injection therapy can also be helpful. When conservative measures have been exhausted, joint replacement surgery may be recommended.