Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK, affecting nearly 9 million people. It most often develops in people in their mid-40s or older. It's also more common in women and people with a family history of the condition. But it can occur at any age as a result of an injury or be associated with other joint-related conditions, such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis initially affects the smooth cartilage lining of the joint.
This makes movement more difficult than usual, leading to pain and stiffness. Once the cartilage lining starts to roughen and thin out, the tendons and ligaments have to work harder. This can cause swelling and the formation of bony spurs called osteophytes.
Severe loss of cartilage can lead to bone rubbing on bone, altering the shape of the joint and forcing the bones out of their normal position.
If you would like further information on managing arthritis in a particular joint please see specific conditions tile on the self care page.
More information about arthritis can be found on the versus arthritis website.