Osteoarthritis is a major source of pain, disability, and socioeconomic cost worldwide. The epidemiology of the disorder is complex and multifactorial, with genetic, biological, and biomechanical components. Aetiological factors are also joint specific. Joint replacement is an effective treatment for symptomatic end-stage disease, although functional outcomes can be poor and the lifespan of prostheses is limited. Consequently, the focus is shifting to disease prevention and the treatment of early osteoarthritis.