Osteoarthritis is often referred to as a degenerative joint disease, which usually develops slowly over time. It is a very common disease, typically associated with joint pain. For example, 6% of adults 30 years old or older have frequent knee pain.1,2
With osteoarthritis, cartilage in the joint begins to break down and the amount of hyaluronic acid within the synovial fluid in the joint decreases, causing the fluid to become thinner and less functional.3,4 The break down of cartilage and the loss of hyaluronic acid in synovial fluid contributes to joint pain, stiffness, inflammation, swelling, and problems with moving your joint.3-5
- Normal cartilage: Provides a smooth surface, allowing bones to move easily across each other.
- Synovial fluid: Lubricates and provides shock absorption during activity due to a high concentration of hyaluronic acid.
- Normal bone: Provides strength and support for the body’s tissues.
- Eroded cartilage: If completely worn away, bones may scrape painfully against each other.
- Osteoarthritis synovial fluid: The degeneration associated with osteoarthritis leads to reduced production of hyaluronic acid, and, presence of hyaluronic acid of poor quality.
- Osteoarthritis bone: Bony spur growths (called osteophytes).
While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are treatment options such as physical therapy, hyaluronic acid injections, and surgery. Learn more about how osteoarthritis is diagnosed, and the treatments of osteoarthritis.