Osteoarthritis Basics: The Joint and Its Parts

Most joints–the place where two moving bones come together–are designed to allow smooth movement between the bones and to absorb shock from movements like walking or repetitive movements. The joint is made up of:

  • Cartilage: a hard but slippery coating on the end of each bone. Cartilage, which breaks down and wears away in osteoarthritis, is described in more detail below.
  • Joint capsule: a tough membrane sac that holds all the bones and joints together.
  • Synovium: a thin membrane inside the joint capsule.
  • Synovial fluid: a fluid that lubricates the joint and keeps the cartilage smooth and healthy.
  • Ligaments, tendons, and muscles: tissues that keep the bones stable and allow the joint to bend and move. Ligaments are tough, cord-like tissues that connect one bone to another. Tendons are tough, fibrous cords that connect muscles to bones. Muscles are bundles of specialized cells that contract to produce movement when stimulated by nerves.

images of a healthy joint, and a joint with osteoarthritis

How Do You Know if You Have Osteoarthritis?

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Be sure to visit the Glucosamine Product Guide for a review of commercially available glucosamine products.