Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition in which tissue known as cartilage breaks down. When this tissue deteriorates, it leaves the bones to rub against each other, often resulting in pain and stiffness.

If you have osteoarthritis, you've probably heard something like this definition from your doctor. The disease may also be referred to as osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis.

In general terms, osteoarthritis is considered to be a chronic condition. It is important to make the distinction between chronic and acute conditions. Illnesses such as a cold or the flu are acute conditions, because they have a clear beginning and end as well as a specific cause, such as a virus. These illnesses can be diagnosed with special tests, and many of the most common ones can be treated with drugs or medical procedures. Chronic conditions like osteoarthritis, on the other hand, often last for several years or even a lifetime. All of the causes of osteoarthritis aren’t yet known, so there may be no single, simple treatment.

In fact, treatment for osteoarthritis may require a variety of medications and other measures, and these may change over time. Because this disease is long-lasting and can affect your day-to-day life for years, it is crucial that you take an active role in managing it. You can make a difference in how you feel by monitoring your symptoms, following your treatment plan, and dealing with the daily challenges the condition brings.

Sourced from:
Arthritis Answers, copyright ©2006, Arthritis Foundation
The Arthritis Foundation’s Guide to Good Living with Osteoarthritis, copyright ©2000, Arthritis Foundation
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