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The term osteoarthritis describes the excessive or premature breakdown of the cartilage, the layer that covers the joints. Risk factors for premature osteoarthritis include excessive strain (e.g. due to high body weight or extreme sports), congenital malalignments (hip dysplasia) or malalignments caused by accidents, bone deformities (e.g. caused by osteoporosis) or joint infections.

In principle, osteoarthritis may occur in any joint. It is the most common joint disease worldwide. Approximately 5 million people in Germany, including two thirds of the population aged 65 and older, are afflicted. The risk of developing osteoarthritis increases with age.

Typical symptoms of osteoarthritis are morning stiffness and pain; pain during strain; occasional articual effusions; increasing deformities; a rasping sound in the moving joint caused by the increasing coarseness of the cartilage surface. This limits the functionality of the joint and increases the discomfort of the patient.

If all conservative measures fail (cf. cartilage damage), the patient will need surgery. In cases were the afflicted area is limited and the osteoarthritis is not too advanced we can operate with minimally invasive techniques (arthroscopy with cartilage smoothing). Cases in which the osteoarthritis is advanced and the entire joint is afflicted require an endoprosthetic approach (artificial joint). Preventive measures include a healthy, balanced diet and the avoidance of toxins such as nicotine. Regular, moderate exercise and maintaining a normal weight also reduce the risk of osteoarthritis.


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