Arthritis and Other Joint Conditions
Joint conditions center around diseases that cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and a loss of motion in your joints. The more than 100 forms of arthritis are the most widely diagnosed joint conditions.
What is osteoarthritis? It’s the most common form of arthritis. The cartilage in a joint breaks down because of “wear and tear” over time. This can be from overuse during a job or athletics. When the cartilage is damaged or gone completely, moving a joint is very painful. The friction may cause painful growths and extra bone may also form around the joint.
Why is cartilage so important? Cartilage protects your joints and allows your bones and muscles to move smoothly. Cartilage is a shock absorber when you walk, run, jump, or catch a ball. When your cartilage is damaged, your bones, muscles, and tendons rub together and become damaged. This causes pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Are you at risk for osteoarthritis? Risk factors include:
- Joint injury
- Jobs that put repetitive stress on a joint
- Birth defects (like bone deformities, malformed joints, or defective cartilage)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
What is rheumatoid arthritis? Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term disease that destroys the joint linings and the surrounding tissues. It can also affect your skin, eyes, heart, and lungs. This disease typically begins in the small joints of your hands and feet and can spread to other joints over time. Eventually, it may damage your actual bone and cause the joint to move out of place.
What causes rheumatoid arthritis? The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown. Your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks tissues in the body, particularly in the lining of the bones, causing inflammation, swelling, and joint deterioration.
Are you at risk for rheumatoid arthritis? Risk factors include:
- Gender (women are affected more often than men)
- Age (rheumatoid arthritis usually begins between age 40 and 60)
What are some other joint conditions? Other conditions that cause joint pain include:
- Bunion: Your big toe pushes against your next toe causing a bony bump in the joint at the base of your big toe.
- Bursitis: Inflammation of the small sacs (bursae) that act as cushions between moving structures (like bones, muscles, tendons or skin).
- Ganglion cyst: A growth near a joint formed through overuse or as a side effect of arthritis.
- Hammer toe: Imbalanced tendons in the toe cause the toes to curl.
- Osteonecrosis of the hip: Blood supply to a bone is reduced, causing the bone to deteriorate.
- Scoliosis: A sideways curve of your spine or backbone, usually beginning in childhood.
- Tendinitis: Inflammation and pain in a tendon, caused by repetitive movements over time.
Joint pain affects your daily life. Talk to your doctor about diagnosis and treatment.