What Is Osteoarthritis? Symptoms, Stages, Natural Treatment

Written by Claire Hannum

Updated on December 1, 2023

Arthritis is sweeping the nation: a whopping 24% of adults in the US have some form of it (1).

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. If you have aching knees that slow you down, you might have OA yourself—alongside 32.5 million other Americans (2).

If you’re living with osteoarthritis, here’s everything you need to know, from what causes it to natural ways to ease your symptoms.

Table Of Contents

What Is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common chronic joint condition (3). It also goes by the names degenerative arthritis, OA, wear-and-tear arthritis, and degenerative joint disease (4). Osteoarthritis is characterized by the disintegration of cartilage. Cartilage is the tissue that cushions the end of each bone.

Needless to say, this deterioration hurts! When your connective tissues wear down, there’s nothing left to protect your bones from rubbing against each other. This can translate to dull, aching pain in your fingers, hands, hips, shoulders, neck, back, and especially your knees. The more cartilage decreases, the more friction there is between your joints.

Animated graphic showing the difference between a normal joint and a joint with osteoarthritis.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

The most well-known symptom of osteoarthritis is joint pain, but there are other symptoms to watch out for too…

  • Joint stiffness
  • Inflammation
  • Decreased flexibility
  • Aches and pains
  • Tenderness at the joint
  • Pain that increases as the condition gets worse

You may be at an increased risk for osteoarthritis if you are post-menopause, female, or have injured joints (5). Your risk can also increase if your joints have undergone repetitive stress from sports, a physically demanding job, genetics, or extra weight.

A container of NativePath Joint Health Collagen on a woman's bent knee

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Stages of Osteoarthritis

If osteoarthritis hits your knees, doctors gauge the severity of your case based on what stage you’re in.

Animated graphic showing the difference between a normal joint and a joint with osteoarthritis.
  • Stage 0: This is considered the normal stage, in which your knees are healthy. You’re only considered to be in this stage if you don’t have any arthritis in your knees at all.
  • Stage 1: This stage is called the minor stage, when your joints experience some wear and tear but you likely don’t feel any pain.
  • Stage 2: This is the mild stage, when you might be feeling some joint stiffness or pain, but still have enough cartilage to prevent your bones from rubbing against each other.
  • Stage 3: In the moderate stage, you may experience pain during everyday activities like running, walking, kneeling, or squatting. Pain can also pop up first thing in the morning or after other periods of stillness. At this point, your cartilage has begun to deteriorate a fair amount and you might be experiencing bone spurs.
  • Stage 4: The severe stage of osteoarthritis sets in when your cartilage has almost fully deteriorated. At this stage, your knees are probably feeling regular pain and stiffness, and may even be immobile. At this stage, some people’s doctors recommend surgery.

Luckily, not everyone’s osteoarthritis progresses all the way to stage 4, especially if they are regularly monitoring their OA with a doctor and caring for their joints.

If you do reach the point of severe OA, you may experience an increase in swelling and inflammation, sharply increased pain, and a lower range of motion. You may also notice your knees locking or buckling at times.

While you can’t necessarily reverse the damage of severe osteoarthritis, there are treatments out there to reduce symptoms…

Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis

Many people start their treatment process by asking themselves, “What’s the best painkiller for osteoarthritis?” Some painkillers that people try include acetaminophen (like Tylenol), NSAIDs (like Advil), cortisone injections, and even certain antidepressants like Cymbalta that help manage chronic pain. However, each of these medications can cause side effects.

If people are hesitant to take medication, they may try physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around joints, or occupational therapy to better manage daily tasks with joint damage. In some cases, doctors may even suggest surgery like joint replacement.

Thankfully, there’s a healthier, more natural treatment option for osteoarthritis that you can try instead: collagen.

This glue-like protein is what gives strength and support to your bones, cartilage, muscles, joints, hair, skin, nails, teeth, cornea, arteries, and gut lining. So much so that it’s known as the “building block” of the body. And when it comes to your bones, collagen makes up 90% of their weight (67).

What is Osteoarthritis Collagen

The frustrating news is that your natural collagen production decreases with age. And do you know what increases with age? Osteoarthritis. This leads researchers to believe that lower collagen levels = an increased risk of osteoarthritis.

Luckily, when you start taking a daily collagen supplement, you can help replenish some of the collagen your body has lost over the years. Collagen helps boost cartilage production, so it can help you rebuild some of the missing cartilage that’s leading to your chronic pain (8). This means less friction and stiffness in your joints and more mobility (79). It can even boost your bone density in the process (10).

A container of NativePath Joint Health Collagen on a man's bent elbow

Ease Joint Pain From Wear & Tear

NativePath Joint Health contains FORTIGEL® and VERISOL®—two proprietary and clinically-proven Bioactive Collagen Peptides that promote strong joints and healthy skin, hair, nails, and bones.

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The Bottom Line

Osteoarthritis is a common part of aging for millions of Americans, but it doesn’t have to be an inevitability. Caring for your joints and supplementing daily with a collagen formula like NativePath Joint Health Collagen can help reduce intense joint pain while restoring the independence that osteoarthritis took away from you.

Start with 2 to 3 scoops (20 to 30 grams) of collagen daily for 8 weeks and then decrease to 2 scoops (20 grams) a day, indefinitely. For more information on collagen dosing, read this article next: This Is How Much Collagen You Need Each Day to See and Feel Results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Arthritis is an umbrella term for all types of arthritis (joint inflammation). There are more than 100 kinds of arthritis (11). Osteoarthritis is just one type of arthritis, but it’s the most common one. OA is characterized by wear and tear on the joints over time as cartilage breaks down (12).

Claire Hannum
Article by

Claire Hannum

Claire Hannum is a New York City-based writer, editor, wellness seeker, and reiki practitioner. Her writing has appeared in Self, Health, Prevention, and over a dozen other publications.

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    Medical Disclaimer

    This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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