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Osteoarthritis is a condition affecting the joints causing them to become painful and swollen.


Cartilage is the flexible tissue found at the ends of the bones in joints, functioning to protect them from the stresses of movement.  In osteoarthritis this cartilage becomes thin and brittle and the bone at the edge of the joint grows outwards causing a nodule called an osteophyte. Fluid also gathers around the joint, causing it to swell and there is a contraction of the ligaments surrounding the joint. In severe osteoarthritis the cartilage can become so thin that the bones start to rub against each other and begin to wear away. All of this makes the joint stiff and sore to move. Osteoarthritis usually occurs in people aged 50 or over but it can affect younger people as a result of injury or damage that has been inflicted on the joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the UK affecting around 8.5 million people.

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Useful links

  • The Health A-Z section of this website contains information of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of many types of illnesses.  It also includes video interviews with specialists and patients.  NHS inform is a new national health information service providing a single source of quality assured health information for the public in Scotland.

  • SHOW (Scotland's Health on the Web) provides information on more than 100 topics covering all aspects of healthy living and advice on coping with long-term health conditions as well as the NHS and health services.


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