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Understanding osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. It affects 31 million Americans, according to the Arthritis Foundation®. Most commonly, it affects your knees, hips, lower back, neck, thumbs, and ends of your fingers. If left untreated, it can result in reduced quality of life.

OA is a joint disease characterized by the breakdown and eventual loss of joint cartilage. Cartilage is a protein that serves as a cushion between the bones of a joint. With OA, the top layer of cartilage breaks down and wears away, allowing bones under the cartilage to rub together.

OA in your knees

At Allegheny Health Network, we have the latest technology to treat OA in your knees. Although the root cause of OA is unknown, several factors increase your risk of developing it. They include age, gender, and inherited traits that can affect the shape and stability of your joints. Other factors can include:

  • A previous knee injury
  • Repetitive strain on the knee
  • Improper joint alignment
  • Being overweight
  • Exercise or sports-generated stress placed on the knee joint

What are the symptoms of OA in your knees?

OA symptoms include:

  • Pain while standing or walking short distances, climbing up or down stairs, or getting in and out of chairs
  • Pain with activity
  • Start-up pain or stiffness when you rise from a sitting position
  • Joint stiffness after getting out of bed
  • Swelling in the knee
  • A grating sensation or crunching feeling in the knee during exercise or sports

If you have any of these symptoms, call 412-DOCTORS to make an appointment with your primary care doctor or an orthopaedic specialist.