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What Is Causing Your Knee Pain? (Illustrated)

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Updated July 01, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

4 of 5

Step 4 of 5 - Joint Damage (Osteoarthritis of Knee)
Erosion of cartilage in osteoarthritis

Erosion of cartilage - Osteoarthritis

Photo © A.D.A.M.

The surface layer of cartilage breaks down and wears away in osteoarthritis (sometimes called wear-and-tear arthritis). The breakdown of cartilage causes the bones of the joint to rub together (often referred to as bone-on-bone).

Pain, swelling, and loss of motion result. The joint may lose its normal shape over time and become deformed. Bone spurs (osteophytes) can develop along the edges of the joint. Bits of bone or cartilage can break off and float inside the joint space, causing even more pain and damage.

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