Topic Overview

Osteoarthritis is a common
cartilage condition and a major cause of pain and
disability in older adults. Primary osteoarthritis
results from changes over time often linked to things such as age, obesity, and
a family history of osteoarthritis. Secondary
osteoarthritis is caused by other conditions that damage cartilage.

Types of osteoarthritis
Primary osteoarthritis Secondary osteoarthritis

It is usually limited to one or a small number of

It may be limited to a small number of joints if
injury-related, or it may be in joints throughout body if disease-related.

It is seen in spine, hips, knees, thumbs, and top
two sets of finger joints.

It is seen in hips, ankles, shoulders, wrists, and
the middle set of finger joints.

No specific inflammatory or metabolic condition
known to be associated with arthritis is present.

Conditions that cause damage to cartilage may be
present, such as:

  • Inherited diseases of iron, calcium, or
    copper storage, such as
    hyperparathyroidism, or
    Wilson’s disease.
  • Neurologic disorders
    that result in the loss of nerve function.
  • Congenital diseases that
    cause an imbalance in the joints.
  • Bone disorders that affect

There is no history of specific injury or

There may be a history of injury to joints, such as
fractures and tears, or history of trauma to joints, such as repetitive heavy
lifting or kneeling.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD – Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Stanford M. Shoor, MD – Rheumatology

Current as ofOctober 10, 2017