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Osteo Arthritis

Rusty joints

Massage is one of the most effective treatments to relieve arthritis pain.

Osteoarthritis is known as a degenerative joint disease, is the most common arthritic disease. Scientists now believe osteoarthritis results from a combination of genetic abnormalities and joint injuries. In this disorder, an affected joint experiences a progressive loss of cartilage, the slippery material that cushions the ends of bones. As a result, the bone beneath the cartilage undergoes changes that lead to bony overgrowth. The tissue that lines the joint can become inflamed, the ligaments can loosen, and the associated muscles can weaken. The sufferer experiences pain when the joint is used. In addition to humans, nearly all vertebrates suffer from osteoarthritis, including porpoises and whales, and long-extinct terrestrial travellers such as dinosaurs.

Joints & Osteoarthritis

Joints are designed to provide flexibility, support, stability, and protection. These functions, essential for normal and painless movement, are primarily supplied by specific parts of the joint: the synovium and by cartilage, including collagen, its primary component.

The Synovium: The synovium is a membrane that surrounds the entire joint. It is filled with lubricating liquid, the synovial fluid , which supplies nutrients and oxygen to cartilage, one of the few tissues that does not have its own blood supply.

Cartilage: The cartilage is a slippery tissue that coats the ends of the bones. It contains a high percentage of water, 85% in young people to about 70% in older individuals. This high content is made possible by water-binding qualities of large molecules called proteoglycans, one of the primary building blocks of cartilage.

Collagen: Collagen, a major component of cartilage, forms a mesh to give support and flexibility to the joint. Collagen is the main protein found in all the connective tissues of the body, which include the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The combination of the collagen meshwork and the high water content, tightly bound by proteoglycans, creates a resilient and slippery pad in the joint, which resists the compression between bones during muscle movement.


Osteoarthritic Process: When cartilage in a joint deteriorates, osteoarthritis develops. The process is usually slow:

  • In the early stages of the disease the surface of the cartilage becomes swollen, and there is a loss of proteoglycans and other tissue components. Fissures and pits appear in the cartilage. In some sufferers inflammation occurs around the synovium.
  • As the disease progresses and more tissue is lost, the cartilage loses elasticity and becomes increasingly prone to damage due to repetitive use and injury.
  • Eventually large amounts of cartilage are destroyed, leaving the ends of the bone within the joint unprotected.

Other problems occur as the body tries to repair damage:

  • Clusters of damaged cells or fluid-filled cysts may form around the bony areas or near the fissures.
  • Bone cells may respond to damage by multiplying and growing and by forming dense, misshapen plates around exposed areas.
  • At the margins of the joint, the bone may produce outcroppings, on which new cartilage grows abnormally.

Location: Unlike some other types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis is not systemic: that is, it does not spread through the entire body. Rather, it concentrates in one or several joints where deterioration occurs. Osteoarthritis affects joints differently depending on their location in the body.

  • It is commonly found in joints of the fingers, feet, knees, hips, and spine.
  • It is rarely found in the wrist, elbows, shoulders, and jaw.

Osteoarthritis of the fingers occurs most often in older women and may be inherited within families. It affects areas where bony knobs form in the joints, most commonly in the first joint below the tips (known as Heberden's nodes ) or less commonly in the next joint down ( Bouchard's nodes ). Gelatinous cysts, which sometimes go away on their own, may also form in the finger joints. Osteoarthritis also frequently damages the base of the thumb.


Osteoarthritis is particularly debilitating in the weight-bearing joints of the knees. Here, the joint is usually stable until the disease reaches an advanced stage, when the knee becomes enlarged and swollen. Although painful, the arthritic knee usually retains reasonable flexibility.


Osteoarthritis frequently strikes the weight-bearing joints in one or both hips. Pain develops slowly, usually in the groin and on the outside of the hips or sometimes in the buttocks. The pain also may radiate to the knee, confusing the diagnosis. Those with osteoarthritis of the hip often walk with a limp, because they slightly rotate the affected leg to avoid pain.

Osteoarthritis may affect the cartilage in the disks that form cushions between the bones of the spine, the moving joints of the spine itself, or both. Osteoarthritis in any of these locations can cause pain, muscle spasms, and diminished mobility. In some cases, the nerves may become pinched, which also produces pain. Advanced disease may result in numbness and muscle weakness. Osteoarthritis of the spine is most troublesome when it occurs in the lower back or in the neck, where it can cause difficulty in swallowing.

Article Provided By Activex America

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