In order to answer the question of what is osteoarthritis it is important to understand a bit about the human skeleton. Bones in the body are connected through joints which allow us to bend, walk, move our arms and fingers and go about our lives. The spine and neck are actually a series of joints that allow a wide range of movement in all different directions.
There are basically four different types of joints in the body. Hinge joints allow movement in one direction, like the hinges on a door. These are found in the elbow and knee and in the knuckles on the fingers and the toes.
Another type of joint is the ball and socket joint. This allows a wider range of motion including rotation in addition to bending. These types of joints are found in the hip and the shoulder. The end of one bone is rounded in shape and fits into the cup formed by the end of the other bone.
A saddle joint allows more movement than a ball and socket joint but is the same type of joint. It provides a much fuller range of motion in two directions than the ball and socket joint. The thumb joint is an example of a saddle joint.
The last type of joint in the body is the gliding joint. This allows a sideways movement as well as a bending movement. The neck is a good example of this type of joint as is the ankle and the wrist. They are not ball and socket or saddle joints since they don't cup or fit into each other as these joints do.
The joints, regardless of their type, are not bone on bone contact in a healthy person. There is a thin layer of fluid in the joint, known as synovial fluid that acts like oil in your car to keep the joints from rubbing. In addition each of the bone ends is covered with a soft, durable tissue known as cartilage. These two things prevent direct bone on bone contact and allows the joint to move easily.
When the joint becomes damaged by use, which is normal, the cartilage becomes rough or wears away. The synovial fluid is also depleted and the friction increases between the two bones in the joint. This leaves ever increasing amounts of the surface of the bones in the joint touching each other. When the rub during movement more wear and damage occurs leading to pain and inflammation.
Bone spurs, which are abnormal pieces of bone, may grow up around the damaged joint. This further reduces movement in the joint and causes pain.
There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but there are options for prevention of the condition, reduction in inflammation and effective pain management. Osteoarthritis symptoms can be managed by a high quality krill oil supplement which is very easy to take and doesn't require a prescription.