Osteoarthritis (also known as osteoarthrosis or degenerative joint disease) is a term covering a broad spectrum of poorly understood joint disorders. Although it is preferable to think of osteoarthritis as a disease process with a variety of initiating factors, it may, for the purposes of this article, be defined as a disorder of synovial joints characterised by aberrant repair and eventual degeneration of articular cartilage and also by the formation of new bone at the articular margins, sclerosis of subchondral bone and variable low grade synovial inflammation. While the apophyseal joints of the spine can also be affected, the association between osteoarthritis of these joints, disc disease and the clinical signs is unclear. Discussion will, therefore, be limited to the joints of the appendicular skeleton.
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