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Osteoarthritis occurs when there is damage in and around the joints that the body can't fully repair. The exact causes are not known but there are several factors thought to increase your risk of developing the condition.
As part of normal life, your joints are exposed to a constant low level of damage. In most cases, your body will repair the damage itself. Usually, the repair process will pass unnoticed and you will not experience any symptoms.
However, in cases of osteoarthritis, the damage to the joints is not fully repaired and instead some of the cartilage (the protective surface that allows your joints to move smoothly) in the joint can be lost, bony growths can develop, and the area can become slightly inflamed (red and swollen).
These changes are what cause the typical symptoms of pain, stiffness and swelling.
It is not known why problems develop in the repair process in cases of osteoarthritis, although, several factors are thought to increase your risk of developing the condition. These include:
Although it is not possible to prevent osteoarthritis altogether, making some lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of joint injury and maintain a healthy weight may lower your chances of developing the condition.
Read more about preventing osteoarthritis.
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