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Osteoarthritis (OA) is the progressive breakdown of the joints’ natural shock absorbers. Commonly referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis or degenerative joint disease, it can cause discomfort when you use the affected joints — perhaps an ache when you bend at the hips or knees, or sore fingers when you type. Most people over 60 have some degree of OA, but it also affects people in their 20s and 30s.