by Robert J. Brownsberger, MD; Whitney James, MD; Dorian Lange, PharmD, of Northern Arizona Pain Institutes
Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis caused by the inflammation, breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage in the joints. The cartilage wears down over time and the condition is sometimes also known as degenerative arthritis, degenerative joint disease and osteoarthrosis. Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder. Unlike some other forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis affects only joints and not internal organs. Here are some facts.
Osteoarthritis is a common cause of joint damage, especially in the hands, hips, knees, lower back, and hands. Symptoms usually begin to appear in people after the age of 40 years, but it can also affect younger people after a traumatic injury.
It is more likely to affect women than men after the age of 50 years. The symptoms progress slowly and contribute to workplace disability and reduced quality of life.
The problem occurs when the body is not able to repair joint tissue in the usual way. A traumatic injury to a joint, for example, may undermine the body’s ability to repair properly. As a result, the damage to the affected joint persists and worsens, leading to symptoms of osteoarthritis.
It can result from damage to cartilage, which is the protective surface that cushions the ends of bones in joints and allows the joints to move smoothly. The smooth surface of the cartilage becomes rough, causing irritation. As the cartilage starts to wear down, the bone in the joint rubs against another bone, causing pain. The bones start protruding, forming bony lumps called osteophytes, and the joints may become wobbly. The bones gradually thicken and become broader, and the joints become stiffer, less mobile and painful.
The knees, lower back, hands, hips, and neck are most commonly affected due to this problem, but osteoarthritis can occur in any joint.
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Learn more at NorthernArizonaPainInstitute.com or call (928) 275-6998.