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Living with Osteoarthritis

Release Date: August 9, 2023

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease in which the tissues in the joint break down over time. It is the most common type of arthritis and is more common in older people. OA affects each person differently. For some people, osteoarthritis is relatively mild and does not affect day-to-day activities. For others, it causes significant pain and disability. Joint damage usually develops gradually over years, although it could worsen quickly in some people.

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), certain factors may make it more likely for you to develop the disease, including:

  • Aging
  • Being overweight or obese
  • History of injury or surgery to a joint
  • Overuse from repetitive movements of the joint
  • Joints that do not form correctly
  • Family history of osteoarthritis

If you have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, learn about the disease and how to manage the symptoms to help you live an active lifestyle. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Exercise is important to help you keep, or improve, your daily living skills. Talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercises and start slowly. Some exercise choices may include walking, swimming, or water aerobics.
  • Try to avoid repeated motions, such as frequent bending.
  • Use a cane or walker when needed to help you move around safely, provide stability, and decrease pain.
  • Use heat and cold therapies to decrease joint pain. Heat therapy can improve blood flow. Cold therapy can numb nerves around the painful joint and help with swelling.
  • Shoe inserts or braces can also help support your joint and help decrease pain and pressure on the area.

For more information about OA and other types of arthritis, please visit the NIAMS Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases & Conditions website.

Last Updated: 08/09/2023
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