A common joint disease characterized by degeneration of the cartilage that lines joints or by formation of osteophytes, leading to pain, stiffness, and occasionally loss of function. Osteoarthritis is due to wear and tear on joints, weight-bearing joints being the most commonly affected. Weakness and shrinkage of surrounding muscles may occur if pain prevents the joint from being used regularly. Affected joints become enlarged and distorted by osteophytes. Osteoarthritis occurs in almost all people over 60, although not all have symptoms. Factors that lead to its earlier development include excessive wear of, or injury to, a joint; congenital deformity or misalignment of bones in a joint; obesity; or inflammation from a disease such as gout. Severe osteoarthritis affects 3 times as many women as men. There is no cure for osteoarthritis. Symptoms can be relieved by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics, injections of corticosteroid drugs into affected joints, and physiotherapy. In overweight people, weight loss often provides relief of symptoms. Surgery for severe osteoarthritis includes arthroplasty and arthrodesis.


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