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Waitematā DHB Rheumatology Services

Public Service, Rheumatology

Osteoarthritis (OA)

Otherwise known as degenerative arthritis. OA occurs when there is a breakdown of the cartilage, leaving the bones unprotected. It is very common and usually affects people as they get older. You can get it at any age and are more likely to if you have previously injured a joint, or are overweight.

The symptoms can be very mild with just occasional pain with activity. Worsening symptoms include pain with activity and stiffness with rest. Joints can become swollen and restricted in movement. Joints can change shape as the bone changes in response to loss of protection. You otherwise feel well.

The diagnosis is made on the basis of the history, examination findings and sometimes x-rays. The severity of joint damage seen on x-ray does not always correlate with the degree of pain you experience.

Treatment includes guided exercises, weight reduction if needed, pain relief and sometimes surgery. For more information see

This page was last updated at 3:49PM on May 31, 2021.