Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Arthritis)

Osteoarthritis is a non-inflammatory disease that causes cartilage -- the spongy substance that cushions the space between bones -- to deteriorate. 

At the University of Michigan Department of Rheumatology, we do a full workup to determine what kind of arthritis you have in order to determine an effective treatment plan. We have decades of experience in successfully diagnosing and treating arthritis. 

Osteoarthritis is sometimes referred to as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease. It is the most common type of arthritis because it's often caused by the wear and tear on a joint over a lifetime. It is most often found in the hands, knees, hips and spine. In the hand, osteoarthritis most often affects the small joints of the fingers and the joint at the base of the thumb.

Factors that contribute to osteoarthritis include: heredity, obesity, joint overuse and injury. Patients who already haverheumatoid arthritis  are more likely to develop osteoarthritis. Learn more about the difference between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

At the University of Michigan, we have a team of experts who provide high-quality care for people with arthritis. We provide the full range of treatment options to fit our patients' lifestyles and needs. Although osteoarthritis has no cure, we know first hand that early treatment can reduce pain and improve joint function.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Some of the symptoms of osteoarthritis overlap with rheumatoid arthritis, so it is important to schedule a consultation with a rheumatologist who can diagnose your condition correctly.  Common symptoms of osteoarthritis include: 

  • Pain: For some people, the pain may come and go. Constant pain or pain while sleeping may be a sign that the arthritis is getting worse. 
  • Stiffness after a period of not moving, such as in the morning or after sitting for a long time 
  • Muscle weakness around the arthritic joint, especially for arthritis in the knee
  • Swelling: When osteoarthritis causes swelling in joints, they will feel tender and sore.
  • Deformed joints: As osteoarthritis progresses, joints may begin to look crooked or misshapen.
  • Reduced range of motion 
  • Cracking and creaking

Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis

At the University of Michigan Department of Rheumatology, our procedures for diagnosis involve a full workup to determine what kind of arthritis you have in order to determine an effective treatment plan. In addition to a physical exam and medical history, we may need to conduct the following procedures: