Arthritis is the general term used whenever there is inflammation present within the joints. Osteoarthritis, specifically, causes a breakdown of joint cartilage. It is the most common form of arthritis and can occur in virtually any joint of the body. It frequently affects those joints that bear the most weight throughout our lives – knees, hips, and spine. However, it can also create damage in the neck, fingers, and thumbs.
Osteoarthritis is unusual in that it does not often occur unless a joint has experienced excessive stress or previous injury. Underlying cartilage disorders can also trigger the condition. Osteoarthritis causes joint cartilage to stiffen and lose elasticity, which ultimately makes it more prone to damage. In time, the cartilage might begin to deteriorate, causing ligaments and tendons to become overworked and creating severe pain. The worst cases may find the bones of the joint actually rubbing against each other.