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Articular cartilage is the tissue located at the end of bones. It can deteriorate over time. This causes a common condition called osteoarthritis. It can become worse over time. In many people, osteoarthritis can be debilitating.

Normally, cartilage is the shock absorber in a joint. It absorbs energy from jarring movement, protecting the bone and other tissue in the area. Cartilage is naturally a very slippery material. It helps the joint glide smoothly. When the cartilage begins to show wear and tear, the lining of the joint becomes inflamed and painful. This makes the joint stiff.

Joints Affected by Osteoarthritis

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Osteoarthritis is an extremely common ailment of aging. In fact, it’s the most common joint condition throughout the world. There are about 27 million people with osteoarthritis in the US alone.

References:

Osteoarthritis. Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: http://www.arthritis.org/conditions-treatments/disease-center/osteoarthritis. Accessed July 23, 2013.

Osteoarthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Osteoarthritis/default.asp. Updated July 2010. Accessed July 23, 2013.

Sinusas, K. Osteoarthritis: Diagnosis and treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2012;85(1):49-56.

Last reviewed June 2013 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.