Finally, bones may rub against bones with each movement of the joint. Even at rest, OA-affected joints can hurt terribly, affecting your sleep and your overall well-being.

What Causes Osteoarthritis?

The factors that lead to OA are varied and may or may not be things you can control or prevent:

  • Aging
  • Excessive or strenuous movements (sports or hard physical labor)
  • Repetitive movements (sports or work)
  • Heredity
  • Obesity
  • Injuries or accidents
  • Muscle weakness

How Will Osteoarthritis Affect Your Lifestyle?

Because OA is a common disease, too many people shrug off its seriousness. Or, they think its effects are inevitable, so they don’t bother doing anything to manage it. Don’t make these mistakes. OA symptoms can hinder your ability to live and work normally if you don’t take steps to prevent further joint damage, manage your pain and increase your flexibility.

OA pain, swelling or stiffness may make it difficult to perform ordinary tasks at work or at home. Simple acts like tucking in your bed sheets, opening a box of food, grasping a computer mouse, or driving a car can become nearly impossible. OA pain, stiffness and immobility can affect your ability to perform your job, and can put a strain on your relationships.

What Can You Do About Osteoarthritis Symptoms?

While there are items (called assistive devices) to help you perform daily tasks if you have OA, and ways to get around performing tasks the typical way (called adaptive living), you can take steps to prevent your OA from worsening.

Simple stretching and regular, easy exercises can reduce OA pain, lower joint-straining weight, and increase your joint’s flexibility. Numerous osteoarthritis medications are available, either with a doctor's prescription or over-the-counter, to help reduce OA inflammation or pain. There are arthritis supplements available that may help control OA symptoms and make you feel better. Surgical techniques, including arthroplasty or total joint replacement, can replace joint components damaged by OA, restoring mobility and reducing pain.

You’ve taken the most important first step: Getting an osteoarthritis diagnosis from your doctor. Now, speak with your doctor and other health-care professionals, such as physical therapists or nurse practitioners, to develop an OA management plan tailored to your lifestyle and needs. The Arthritis Foundation has resources available both locally and online to help you put your plan into action.

OA, for now, isn’t curable, but it is manageable. You are the manager of your OA, and your doctor and other health-care professionals are key members of your team. You can take control of the way OA affects your body over time through physical activity, diet, medications and supplements, surgery, and most of all, a positive attitude about how you will keep living fully as a person with osteoarthritis.