Arthrosis is caused by many years of overuse of a joint due to misalignment, heavy physical labour, obesity or joint inflammation (arthritis).


Arthrosis is caused by many years of overuse of a joint due to misalignment, heavy physical labour, obesity or joint inflammation (arthritis). The initial pain experienced after periods of inactivity slowly worsens until it becomes constant. This goes hand in hand with a growing restriction of movement. Preventive measures include regular exercise and losing weight.


Main symptoms

  • Pain
    • Pain on initial movement (early stage)
    • Exertion-induced pain, pain at night and chronic pain (later)
    • Worse when weather is cold and wet
    • Pain radiation

Other symptoms

  • Restricted movement
    • Stiff joints in the morning
    • Stiff after sitting for a prolonged period
    • Chronic stiffness develops later
  • Joints make scraping and rubbing noises
  • Deformation of joints

Activated arthrosis

  • Episode of acute joint inflammation
  • Swelling, red skin, overheating
  • Joint effusion (collection of fluid inside the joint)

Causes and treatment

Causes and promoting factors

Continued wear and tear of the cartilage covering the joint

  • Chronic overuse of the joint
    • In particular hips, knees, shoulders and spine
    • Heavy physical labour, one-sided strain
    • Obesity
    • Genetic factors, poor joint formation
    • Misalignments (e.g. knock knees or bandy legs)
    • Growth disorders or paralysis
  • Accidents causing lasting joint injury
  • Inflammatory joint diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, gout)
    • All joints can be affected
  • Advancing age (normal sign of old age)
  • Metabolic and other diseases (e.g. haemophilia and haemochromatosis)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Examination of joint
  • Imaging procedures
    • X-ray
    • CT scan (computed tomography)
    • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
    • Ultrasound
    • Arthroscopy (keyhole surgery)
Possible therapies

Three pillars: medication, physical therapy, operation (if necessary)

  • Medication
    • Anti-inflammatories and painkillers (in particular for acute treatment)
    • Joint injections (only for severe cases)
  • Physical therapy
    • Physiotherapy
    • Heat or cold treatments
    • Massages
    • Orthopaedic shoes
  • Operation
    • Keyhole surgery (arthroscopy)
    • Joint replacement (mainly hip and knee replacement)
    • Joint stiffness

What can I do myself?

  • Lose weight, if necessary
  • Avoid one-sided strain
  • Gentle lifting and carrying of loads
  • Exercise
    • Regular and measured exercise
    • Careful movement exercises, until pain threshold is reached
    • Rounded and gliding movements (e.g. swimming, cycling)
    • Strengthen muscles (stabilises the joints)
  • Suitable shoes (cushioning, no high heels)
  • Cold (for inflammation) or warm compresses
  • Rheumatism bath
  • Use aids (e.g. insoles, walking sticks, supports and bandages)

When to see a doctor?

  • Acute: overheated, red, swollen and severe pain in the joint
  • Desire to lose weight and change lifestyle
  • Constant pain or pain at night
  • Loss of joint function
  • Negative impact on daily life

Further information

Rheumaliga Schweiz (Swiss Rheumatism League)

Selbsthilfe Schweiz (Self-Help Support Switzerland)


arthrosis, degenerative rheumatism, osteoarthritis, spondyloarthrosis, gonarthrosis, coxarthrosis, omarthrosis

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.