Man and woman sitting on a bench near some bicycles


Patients with osteoarthritis can experience painful symptoms, making it difficult to perform day-to-day activities. At MaineHealth, doctors and specialists provide expertise and extensive knowledge in diagnosing and treating osteoarthritis.

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a joint disease that primarily affects cartilage, the slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint.

In osteoarthritis, the top layer of cartilage is broken and worn down, allowing bones underneath to rub together and cause pain, swelling, and loss of joint mobility. It often occurs in the hands, knees, hips, and spine.

Causes of osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis may get worse over time. Some risk factors that might cause osteoarthritis include:

  • Being overweight

  • Old age

  • Joint injury

  • Genetic defect in joint cartilage

  • Stresses on joints from certain jobs and playing sports.

Talk with your provider about your risk for developing osteoarthritis.

Diagnosing osteoarthritis

There is no single test that can diagnose osteoarthritis. Doctors may use a combination of several methods to confirm a diagnosis and rule out other problems or underlying causes. Some of these methods include:

  • Medical history
  • Physical exam
  • X rays
  • Other tests, such as blood tests or exams of the fluid in the joints.

Treatment for osteoarthritis

Doctors may use a combination of treatment methods for patients with osteoarthritis to ensure that the plan meets their individual needs.

Goals of treatment include improving overall joint function, maintaining a healthy body weight, controlling pain, and achieving optimal health. Treatment programs may include:

  • Exercise

  • Medicine

  • Weight control

  • Rest and joint therapy

  • Physical therapy

  • Surgery

Access to care for patients with osteoarthritis

The Spine Program at the Maine Medical Center Neuroscience Institute is Maine’s largest and most complete resource for diagnosing spinal problems, such as osteoarthritis of the spine. The specialists are dedicated to evaluating and diagnosing what is causing you pain and develop individual treatment plans based on your needs.

Primary care is your first stop for healthcare

The primary care providers at MaineHealth have the compassion and skill to care for you and the entire family. They make your health and your family’s health the first priority.