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Osteoarthritis is typically a normal result of aging and is caused by wear and tear on the rubbery cushion (called cartilage) that lines your joints. Cartilage allows bones to glide over one another within a joint without pain. Arthritis describes the process of the joint cartilage breaking down.  This degenerative process causes pain, swelling, stiffness and reduced joint motion.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It can occur in any joint, but is most common in the hands, knees, hips and spine. Repeated use of the joint after cartilage loss can cause permanent damage. Bony spurs may form, and your ligaments and muscles become weak and stiff.

Symptoms usually appear in middle age, after age 45. Osteoarthritis affects 27 million Americans, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Most people have some osteoarthritis by age 70.

The condition can appear earlier in life or be aggravated by several factors.

  • Obesity. Being overweight puts extra pressure on the joints, especially the knees and feet.
  • Heredity. Osteoarthritis tends to run in families.
  • Repeated use. Jobs that involved kneeling, squatting, lifting or climbing stairs can place a heavy load on your joints. Sports that include direct impacts and twisting, like football and basketball, can also damage your joints over time.
  • Injury. Any fracture or injury to the cartilage or ligaments in your joints can lead to osteoarthritis later in life.
  • Medical conditions. Bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia, that affect the blood supply near a joint and other forms of arthritis can also lead to osteoarthritis.

There are different ways to reduce the impact of osteoarthritis, from lifestyle changes to surgery. At Indiana University Health, we partner with your primary care physician and experts at the IU School of Medicine to access the latest research and information in preventing osteoarthritis and treating your symptoms. Your primary care physician uses a multi-disciplinary approach to provide with you a variety of treatment options to keep you moving and minimize your pain.

While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, our long focus on studying and treating the condition makes us experts in helping you lessen your joint pain so that you can live life to the fullest. Our affiliation with the IU School of Medicine Division of Rheumatology connects us to the latest research and clinical studies for osteoarthritis treatments. We have long been involved in the national osteoarthritis initiative funded by the National Institutes of Health to study many aspects of the condition. In 1977, the NIH funded the IU Multipurpose Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases Center, which conducts research into the causes and biology of rheumatic diseases, including osteoarthritis.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Osteoarthritis Treatment Information

We offer treatments to keep you active, get you healthy and reduce pain—all with the goal of improving your overall quality of life.

Osteoarthritis Locations & Physicians

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Osteoarthritis Support Services

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