Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is a chronic condition in which the cartilage in your joints wears down. This can result in stiffness, pain, decreased range of motion, and loss of function. Some degree of osteoarthritis is expected as part of the aging process. Other risk factors include obesity, previous injury to the joint, and joint overuse. All of the joints in the body can be affected, including the major weight-bearing joints (ie hips, knees) as well as smaller joints (small joints in the spine, etc).
Your doctor may suggest medications such as antiinflammatories, physical therapy, injections, or surgery (ie joint replacement) to help manage your symptoms.
Basic strategies for minimizing the impact on the problematic joint(s) include strengthening the muscles around the joint, weight loss, and exercise. Acupuncture can be a useful adjunctive modality in some patients. Tai chi, aquatics, and other low impact exercises are opportunities to strengthen and support the joints in a safe and gentle manner . Future and current research involves biologic injectables, such as those used for rheumatoid arthritis, though to date, there has not yet been clear success on this front.