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Last updated: 30th Jul 2021

Osteoarthritis, colloquially known as “wear-and-tear arthritis”, is the most common form of arthritis, frequently affecting the joints of the hands, feet, knees, hips and spine. It involves degeneration of articular cartilage, which exposes the underlying subchondral bone, resulting in sclerosis and subsequent bone remodelling which ultimately leads to a narrowing of the joint space. 

Pain and loss of function are the hallmark symptoms of osteoarthritis. Swelling and stiffness of the affected joint is often apparent, with enlargement of the fingers around the interphalangeal joints particularly common where the hands are affected.

First-line treatment for osteoarthritis involves non-pharmacological methods, with a particular focus on education and encouraging weight loss among overweight patients. This may be supplemented with analgesics and NSAIDs as required. In some cases, intra-articular corticosteroid injections provide short term pain relief, and where conservative therapy proves ineffectual, surgery may also be considered.

To find out more about Osteoarthritis, visit our Learning Zone, which contains further information on the management of this condition.

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