Osteoarthritis, resulting from the wear and tear of your body as you age, affects more than 20 million people in the United States. The pressure of gravity on your joints and surrounding tissues causes physical damage, leading to pain, tenderness, swelling and decreased function. The smooth and glistening covering on the ends of your bones, called articular cartilage, which help your joints glide, may wear thin.
Initially, osteoarthritis is not painful and its onset is subtle and gradual, usually involving one or only a few joints. The joints most often affected are the knee, hip and hand. In some instances joint replacement (arthroplasty) of the hip or knee in recommended to treat osteoarthritis.