Osteoarthritis is a chronic, progressive disease characterized by inflammation in and around the joint space. Inflammation eventually results in damage to joint structures, especially the cartilage covering the end of each bone at the joint space.
Because osteoarthritis commonly makes its appearance late in life, it has often been called “wear and tear” arthritis. That term, however, is generally misleading. An actual tear or other damage to a joint component will increase the likelihood of later developing osteoarthritis and will speed the progression of osteoarthritis. But in the absence of such physical damage, moderate exercise is beneficial to the joint. If osteoarthritis was simply the result of normal use (e.g. “wear and tear”) there would be no advantage is subjecting the joint to the additional ‘wear and tear’ of exercise.