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Osteoarthritis - causes, symptoms and treatments

Osteoarthritis is a disease involving inflammation of the bone and joint cartilage.

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Osteoarthritis Symptoms and Causes

Bone provide support for the body and aid in its movement. The place where two or more bones meet is called a joint. joints may be immovable, slightly movable or freely moveable.

Osteoarthritis - causes, symptoms and treatments

A synovial membrane surrounds movable joints inside the membrane synovial fluid lubricates and nourishes joint tissue such as cartilage. Articular cartilage is a tough slippery covering on the ends of the bones which allows smooth joint movement.

Joints give the body flexibility precision of movement and help in supporting the body's weight. Nowadays it's thought that inflammation does indeed play an important role in the development of osteoarthritis.

A healthy joint consists of two bones each with its own layer of articular cartilage which is a type of connective tissue that allows the two bones to glide against each other essentially without friction. One particular kind of joint which is a synovial joint along with articular cartilage.

Another important component of synovial joints and where they get their name from is the synovium which along with the surface of articular cartilage forms the inner lining of the joint space.

Osteoarthritis - causes, symptoms and treatments

The synovium is composed of loose connective tissue, blood vessels, lymphatic vessels and on the surface type A cells that clear cellular debris and type B cells that produce components of the synovial fluid which helps lubricate the two articular surfaces.

Arthritis is any disorder that affects joints, it can cause pain and inflammation.

Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease is the most common type of arthritis, it's usually seen in older people the joints most commonly affected are in the hands, knees, hips and spine.

One of the main issues in osteoarthritis is the progressive loss of this articular cartilage which means there's not much separating the two bones anymore which adds a significant amount of friction between them which then generates inflammation and triggers pain through the nerve endings in this joint space.

Maintaining healthy articular cartilage is the chondrocytes job, a specialized cell responsible for maintaining everything cartilage related.

The chondrocytes produce and are embedded within a strong gel or extracellular matrix which contains type 2 collagen a protein that provides structural support as well as proteoglycans which are aggregates of protein and sugar molecules like hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate and keratin sulfate.
All of these extracellular components give the cartilage elasticity and high tensile strength which help weight-bearing joints distribute weight such that the underlying bone absorbs the shock and the weight and these are joints like the knees the hips in the lower lumbar spine.

Chondrocytes are important for the articular cartilage got it that makes sense 

Osteoarthritis - causes, symptoms and treatments

In healthy people, chondrocytes maintain a delicate balance between breaking down old cartilage called catabolic activity and producing new cartilage called anabolic activity.

Through the use of both decorative enzymes and synthetic enzymes when something causes an increased expression of decorative enzymes then the balance tips toward a net loss of cartilage via loss of proteoglycans and collagen what sort of something though can cause increased expression of decorative enzymes. The cause of osteoarthritis is unknown, being overweight a joint injury such as a fracture repetitive strain from activities such as sports, and problems with the bones in a joint not lining up properly.

Over many years these factors can wear away the articular cartilage, the exposed bony surfaces rub together. This along with the growth of bony projections called bone spurs causes swelling, pain and limited movement of the joints.

Treatments for Osteoarthritis

There is no cure for osteoarthritis but a combination of treatment options control the symptoms. For example, medications can reduce joint inflammation and pain, common medications include acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs.

Management or treatment of osteoarthritis can involve non-pharmacological approaches like losing weight or moderate exercise as well as physical therapy. This can be especially important for large weight-bearing joints like the hips and the knees. Pharmacological treatments focus on reducing pain and inflammation.

Osteoarthritis - causes, symptoms and treatments

An ice pack may also reduce joint pain lifestyle changes such as resting the affected joint, losing weight if necessary may help slow down the progression of osteoarthritis. Other lifestyle changes include physical therapy exercises to manage osteoarthritis on your own.

Physical therapy exercises along with low-impact exercises such as walking and swimming increase muscle strength and keeps joints limber. Braces can help with joint support and alignment to reduce joint pain.

If neither of these approaches are successful though sometimes patients might benefit from injections of hyaluronic acid into the joint or they might need surgery to replace the affected joint. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in the joint synovial fluid, it helps lubricate the joint and allows the bones to slide over each other more easily.

Osteoarthritis - causes, symptoms and treatments

For severe osteoarthritis, a doctor may recommend a surgical procedure, such as joint resurfacing to remove loose bone or cartilage and bone spurs or an osteotomy or bone removal may be recommended to realign deformed joints.

In some cases, the arthritic joint may need to be replaced with an artificial joint.

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