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osteoarthritis illustratative definition

Osteoarthritis is the ‘wear and tear’ arthritis that affects people as they age. Here in Australia, it is the most common type of arthritis, affecting 1 in 11 of us, and is the predominant condition that leads to knee and hip replacement surgeries [1].

Osteoarthritis affects your joints

Your joints enclose your bone ends that are covered by cartilage. This cartilage helps your joints absorb shock, acting as a rubbery cushion, as well as creating a slippery surface for bones to move smoothly and efficiently past one another. As our cartilage wears down from use and impact over time, our bones can start to rub against one another, causing pain and restricting movement available at the joint.

Osteoarthritis can develop in any joint and often affects the knees, hips, spine, hands and feet. In the lower limbs, the knees, ankle, big toe and midfoot joints are often affected. 

osteoarthritis illustratative full definition

What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?

The symptoms of osteoarthritis tend to progress gradually and affect women (60%) at a higher rate than men (40%). It’s important to remember that if you’re experiencing severe inflammation and ‘flares’ in your joints, these may be symptoms of inflammatory arthritides such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.

The symptoms of osteoarthritis may include:

  • Painful joints
  • Swelling 
  • Redness
  • Limited movement at joints
  • Pain on moving/using the joints
  • Creaking in the joints
  • Changes to the bone shape (including irregular bony growth at the joints)
  • Weakened muscles 

What causes osteoarthritis?

The term ‘wear and tear’ that is often associated with osteoarthritis refers to the loads that we put on the joints during our lifetime that cause them to wear down. Interestingly, the disease mechanism is now thought to be related to the joint working extra hard to repair itself [2]. Aside from this, other contributing factors can include:

  • Previous injury to the bones or joints
  • Obesity 
  • Infection
  • Repetitive movements that overload and stress the joints

How is osteoarthritis treated?

While the degenerative changes aren’t reversible, they can be managed to reduce the symptoms and improve your comfort and mobility. Here at The Podiatrist, we can help you with this by:

  • Assessing your footwear to ensure it’s helping you move and absorb shock and not putting extra loads on your joints
  • Prescribing orthotics that redistribute weight away from painful joints and areas, cushion the feet, help you absorb shock and improve the overall biomechanics of the feet
  • Prescribe low-impact exercises that can help maintain your joint strength and mobility, including hydrotherapy offered by our sister clinic, The Physio
  • Discuss your regular activities and how you can continue to do these while not speeding up the progression of osteoarthritic symptoms 


[1] -

[2] -

Two weeks with Calcaneal Spur and finally got to see Doc. He sent me to Kevin @ Eleven and with One Appointment, he had me walking without Crutches. Yes! It still hurt. Did the Stretching, Rolling my Foot on a Spikey ball and Iced it occasionally. Return visit, after he had his Holiday, and I' am walking fine. They do NOT want to see me again, unless it deteriorates. Which it has not :-)
- Ivan CooKe