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Osteo arthritis


Introduction

Osteo arthritis most often occurs at the ends of the fingers, thumbs, neck, lower back, knees, and hips.

Osteo arthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It is a degenerative joint disease, the degenerative factor being associated with the articular cartilage and joint surfaces. Patients know this disease as old age arthritis.

In a normal joint, a smooth elastic material called cartilage covers the ends of bones where they meet. Cartilage enables the bones to glide smoothly across each other and gives joints their flexibility. When the cartilage wears away, friction in the joint leads to inflammation, weakened- tendons, ligaments and muscles that surround the joint.

This leads to the development of small bony growths, calcium spurs and soft cysts in the joints. These spurs are caused by the joints attempting to heal themselves by forming new cartilage, which unfortunately tends to form hard knobs. These knobs become bony themselves and lead to a change in the shape and structure of the joint. In reaction to the pain, muscles near the joint may become tense and contract. As muscles weaken, use of the joint may become more restricted.

All the joints in the body may be affected by osteo arthritis; however it is most commonly experienced in the weight bearing joints: knees, hips and lumbar spine. To take the hip joint as an example, the effect of continually jarring the joint in some forms of athletics could be to gradually reduce the ability of the articular cartilage to absorb shock. In time, destruction of the cartilage could occur with corresponding breakdown of joint surfaces. This theory is supported by the incidence of osteo arthritis in overweight people and athletes where normal ageing has not been the cause.

Physicians categorize cases of osteo arthritis as primary and secondary. The primary form seems to begin by itself, with no specific cause, while the secondary type may have many causes but often results from too much stress and strain on a joint. Primary osteo arthritis occurs mostly in women and may have a hereditary component because it seems to appear more in some families than in others.

Normal Joint Joint with Osteo arthritis


In a normal joint (where two bones come together), the muscle, bursa (sacs of fluid that protect moving muscles, skin and tendons) and tendons (tissue that attaches muscle to bone) support the bone and help the joint to move. The synovial membrane releases a slippery fluid into the joint space. Cartilage covers the ends of the bone to absorb shocks and to keep the bones from rubbing together when the joint moves.


With osteoarthritis, cartilage breaks down and the bones rub together. The joint then loses shape and moves. The ends of the bone become thick, forming spurs (bony growths). Bits of cartilage or bone float in the joint space.
Normal Joint Joint With OSteo Arthritis

How is Osteo arthritis diagnosed?

Often if a person complains of pain in joints, the physician will order X-Rays because damage on a joint can only be seen on an x ray. The history of one's symptoms and the findings of the complete physical examination also will be a valuable factor in the diagnosis. The explanation of how you feel is also important.

People with osteo arthritis usually do not have a feeling of being ill, do not experience severe weight loss and do not have a poor appetite or fever. Also, the pain in the involved joint is usually maximal with activity (walking, etc.) and decreased by rest in patients with osteo arthritis.


What is the outlook for Osteo arthritis?


Prompt appropriate treatment usually greatly relieves symptoms and improves function. Activity need not be permanently limited if control of the disease is maintained through the many options now available with the physicians. Researchers are constantly striving for additional means of controlling and curing the disease.

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Disclaimer: This is not to provide medical advice. All content including text, graphics, images and information is for general informational purposes only.
  Causes of Arthritis
The x rays will tell the doctor what is happening to the bones and joints inside your body.
 


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