Osteoarthritis affects over 27 million Americans. The chance of developing the disease increases as we age, with many adults over age 60 getting osteoarthritis to some degree. Because it is so widespread and because of the pain and disability that can result from having it, osteoarthritis is generally considered the most frequent cause of chronic disability in older adults.

In osteoarthritis, joint cartilage breaks down, tendons and ligaments stretch, and bones rub against each other. When the knees of our blue jeans wear out, we live with the holes, or we patch them. Similarly, when our own knees wear out from osteoarthritis, we can live with the pain, or we can have surgery to replace the knees. But researchers are working on new ways to slow or even stop the progression of joint tissue destruction from osteoarthritis, perhaps eliminating-or at least reducing-the need for replacements.

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Learn more with our Infoaging Guide to Osteoarthritis.

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