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Osteoarthritis: Common Sites

Osteoarthritis (OA) is sometimes called degenerative joint disease or wear-and-tear arthritis. It's the most common type of arthritis. In OA, the cartilage wears away. Cartilage covers the ends of bones and acts as a cushion. If enough cartilage wears away, bone rubs against bone. The joint changes in OA cause pain, stiffness, and trouble moving. OA may occur in any joint. Some joints that are commonly affected are the spine, neck,  hips, knees, fingers, and toes.

Outline of woman showing joints affected by osteoarthritis: neck, lumbar spine, hips, fingers, knees, and toes.Neck

Joints between small bones in the neck may wear out. Pain may travel to the shoulder or the base of the skull.

Lumbar Spine

Bony spurs may form on the joints between the vertebrae (spinal bones). And disks (cushions of cartilage between vertebrae) may wear down. Pain may affect the lower back or leg.


Cartilage damage can occur in the large “ball and socket” joint that connects the pelvis and thighbone (femur). Pain may travel to the groin, buttocks, or knee.


The cartilage in the knee joint may wear down. Weakness or instability in the knee joint may make walking or climbing stairs difficult.


Finger joints may become enlarged and knobby. Grasping objects may be hard, especially if the joint at the base of the thumb is affected.


Toes may be affected. Arthritis may cause a bunion, a bump at the base of the big toe. Standing or walking may be painful.


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