View All Arthritis Types View All Arthritis Types
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, affecting more than three million Canadians — that’s one in 10! Though once referred to as the “wear-and-tear” arthritis, the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) recently re-defined this condition. It describes OA as the result of the body’s failed attempt to repair damaged joint tissues. However, OA isn’t always developed due to abnormal stresses or injury; it may also occur as part of the aging process. This condition leads to the breakdown of cartilage (the tough elastic material that covers and protects the ends of bones) and the underlying bone, resulting in pain, stiffness, swelling and bone-on-bone reduction in range of movement in the affected joint.

The joints most commonly affected by OA are the knees, hips and those in the hands and spine. When it comes to symptoms of pain, deformity and dysfunction, OA affects everyone differently.

There is currently no cure for OA. However, there are options that can help reduce risk, relieve pain and improve function. They include a combination of joint protection (e.g., avoiding repetitive stress on the joint — ballet dancers, professional musicians, elite athletes and construction workers are at particular risk), self management, exercise and physical therapy, weight management, medications and, sometimes for severe OA, total joint replacement

Did you know?

•  Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis; it affects one in 10 Canadian adults.
•  OA is more prevalent in women than men across all ages.
•  People of any age can get OA, but it is more common as we age.
•  There is currently no cure for OA. However, there are options can help reduce risk, relieve pain and improve function.
Early signs of OA
How is OA diagnosed?
Why is treatment for OA so important?
Joints most commonly affected by osteoarthritis
Risk factors
Once a diagnosis is confirmed, there are many options that can help manage pain, increase movement and protect your joint. Weight management, exercise and self-management are recommended for all forms of OA.

Physical Activity
Heat and Cold Therapy
Protecting your Joints
Relaxation and Coping Skills
Healthy Eating and Weight Control
Complementary Therapies
Arthritis medications are designed to control a disease, slow its progression, and to help manage pain. There is a wide range of options – with new ones coming on the horizon – so understanding all possible treatments is not easy. 

These medications can be very complex, so you are encouraged to ask for in-depth explanations from your health care team – including pharmacists, who are an excellent source of information. 

To explore this area of treatment, The Arthritis Society has developed a comprehensive expert guide that delivers detailed information on medications used to treat arthritis.

Explore the Arthritis Medications A Reference Guide

The optimal treatment is what is best in each individual case – so speak with your doctor and/or pharmacist about what kind of medications are most appropriate for you.

Educational Programs 

The Arthritis Society provides a range of in-person workshops and online programs, all with a specific focus in mind. They include chronic pain management, overcoming fatigue, understanding your health-care team, symptom checkers, and more. Participants learn new information and skills, and for in-person workshops, can share ideas and experiences with others.

Explore arthritis workshops and courses


Discover information you can trust, because it’s based on evidence and vetted by experts, in The Society’s resource area. Learn about each disease, possible treatments, self-management, lifestyle issues, and so much more.

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online education module
Online Arthritis Self Management Courses

Online education programs that are informative, convenient and FREE.

Arthritis Community
Arthritis Community

Connect with others, share your arthritis experience and get answers in a safe online space.

Printed publications
Arthritis Publications

Evidence-based content to help you learn about the disease, treatments and self-management.