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Arthritis

Updated 02 October 2018

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a disease that primarily affects the cartilage lining of the joints and the bones associated with the joints.

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Alternative names: Degenerative joint disease, spondylosis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a disease that primarily affects the cartilage lining of the joints and the bones associated with the joints.

Cartilage allows the bones to glide over each other. When someone has osteoarthritis, this layer of cartilage starts to break down, causing bones to grind against each other. All the tissues surrounding the affected joint eventually become abnormal.

Outgrowths of bone form around the joint in an attempt at healing. Fragments of this bone can break off and irritate the joints, which lose their natural lubrication and become stiff and noisy. This causes pain and reduced motion.

Reviewed by Dr Stella Botha, rheumatologist at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town (MBChB, MRCP, PhD). November 2017

Image credit: iStock

 

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Arthritis expert

Professor Asgar Ali Kalla completed his MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 1975 at the University of Cape Town and his FRCP in 2003 in London. Professor Ali Kalla is the Isaac Albow Chair of Rheumatology at the University of Cape Town and also the Head of Division of Rheumatology at Groote Schuur Hospital. He has participated in a number of clinical trials for rheumatology and is active in community outreach. Prof Ali Kalla is an expert in Arthritis for Health24.

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