osteoarthritis (OA)

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osteoarthritis (OA)

a condition of the joints where articular cartilage becomes worn, exposing the underlying bone. More than just 'wear and tear', it is an evolving process with much research aimed at slowing its advance. Known aetiological factors include increasing age, female sex, manual occupations, obesity, malalignment and injury in sport. Genetic factors have been implicated, though not yet identified. There is little evidence that exercise per se produces OA. Clinically OA presents with pain, stiffness, limitation of movement and joint deformity. X-rays show joint space narrowing, osteophytes, subchondral sclerosis and bony deformity. Most commonly affects the weight-bearing joints (hips, knees, ankles and feet) and hands. Exercise is used in treatment to maintain mobility, flexibility and muscle strength. Analgesia and modification of activity are advised in mild to moderate OA, and osteotomy or joint replacement for severe disease in suitable joints.
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