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Osteoarthritis (OA) is a type of joint disease that results from breakdown of joint cartilage and underlying bone. It is often classified as wear and tear, but it should also be regarded as age related change, as gradual degeneration of the cartilage is part of the normal life cycle of the body.

The most common symptoms are joint pain and stiffness. Initially, symptoms may occur only following activity, but over time they may become more constant.

Other symptoms can include joint swelling, decreased range of motion. In some cases osteoarthritis of the spine can affect the nerves that supply the legs, causing pain and occasionally weakness and numbness. The most commonly involved joints are those near the ends of the fingers, at the base of the thumb, neck, lower back, knee, and hips. Joints on one side of the body are often more affected than those on the other. Usually the symptoms come on over years. It can affect work and normal daily activities. Unlike other types of arthritis, only the joints are typically affected.

Your osteopath cannot reverse the changes associated with OA, but can help you to adapt to compensate and reduce symptoms you may experience. Exercise is not contraindicated for those with OA, and in fact current evidence shows that maintaining activity reduces disability associated with the condition and helps people manage their symptoms more effectively. However, in some cases surgery may be required should the symptoms progress.

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