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This is the most common type of arthritis.  It is caused by inflammation of the cartilage which eventually becomes destroyed.  There may be genetic links, and the joints most affected are the ones which bear the most weight or have had previous damage. 

Almost everyone over 60 will show signs of osteoarthritis, however this does not mean that they will all have symptoms.  If symptoms occur, they are usually pain, stiffness and occasional loss of function to the affected area.  The joints become enlarged and distorted, and this can cause the appearance of arthritic hands (with a gnarled feature).  Pain may result in loss of use of a particular joint, which may result in weakness and shrinkage of the surrounding muscles. 

There is no set conventional cure of osteoarthritis, however there may be relief from symptoms through the use of pain relieving drugs, anti inflammatory drugs, and corticosteroid drugs which can be injected into the affected joint.  Physiotherapy may be used to improve muscle strength and this can also help to prevent the deterioration of the muscles.  Weight loss can also be a relief to symptoms.  In severe cases, there are a number of aids which a person can use to make their day-to-day life easier.

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