Osteoarthritis...Joints, Cartilage, and Pain

Arthritis in its simplest description is a damaged joint. This can involve damage to the cartilage cushion within the joint and/or damage to the support structures of the joint, namely the capsule and ligaments and surrounding tendons.

There are many types of arthritis and many causes for arthritis so it is misleading to lump them all together in terms of diagnosis and treatment. While it is a long list, some examples of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, psoriatic arthritis, gout, and lupus. I am leaving many examples out so as to focus on one of the more common types and specifically OSTEOARTHRITIS.

These two types account for the vast majority of arthritis that is seen by hand surgeons and therapists and rheumatologists.

The main problems that result from these conditions are joint pain and joint swelling and stiffness. This can involve joints all over the body from the neck and back, the hips and knees. Each form of arthritis has its own typical distribution.

With OSTEOARTHRITIS, it can just happen for no apparent reason or it can be caused by or provoked by trauma. In other words, a particular injury can lead to a mechanical problem with the joint or there can be an underlying problem that is set of by the injury.

With RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS, there is a autoimmune component wherein the body actually attacks itself and in this case especially the joints (though other organs can be involved) Why that happens in some people and not other that is still being researched.