Sometimes called degenerative joint disease (DJD), osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common painful condition of the joints. In OA, there is a breakdown in the cartilage covering the ends of the bones where they meet to form a joint and allow movement. As the cartilage wears away, the bones become exposed and rub against each other. The deterioration of cartilage also affects the shape and makeup of the joint so that it no longer functions smoothly.
Symptoms of OA vary, depending on which joint(s) are affected and how severely they are affected. The most common symptoms are stiffness, particularly first thing upon waking up or after a period of rest. The most commonly affected joints are the lower back, hips, knees and feet- but can affect the neck, hands and fingers as well.