Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that results from the breakdown and loss of cartilage in one or more joints. Cartilage is a protein substance that acts as a “cushion” between the bones of the joints. Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative arthritis.
Of the more than 100 different types of arthritis conditions, osteoarthritis is the most common. Before the age of 45, osteoporosis occurs more frequently in males. After the age of 55 years, it occurs more frequently in females. Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the hands, feet, spine, and large, weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees.
What causes osteoporosis?
Primary Arthritis(when the cause is unknown) is often associated with aging. With age, the water content of cartilage increases and the protein structure of cartilage deteriorates. Repeated use of joints over the years irritates and inflames the cartilage, causing joint pain and swelling
. Eventually the cartilage begins to deteriorate. In advanced cases, complete loss of the cartilaginous cushion between the bones of the joints occurs. Loss of the cartilage cushion causes friction between the bones, which leads to pain and limitation of joint movement. Costochondritis can also stimulate new bone growth (spurs) to form around joints.
Secondary osteoarthritis is caused by another disease or condition such as obesity, repetitive trauma or surgery to joint structures, abnormal joints at birth (congenital malformations), gout, diabetes and other hormonal disorders. Obesity causes osteoporosis by increasing mechanical stress on the cartilage. Crystal deposits in cartilage can cause cartilage degeneration and osteoarthritis. Uric acid crystals cause arthritis in gout, while calcium pyrophosphate crystals cause arthritis in pseudogout.
Some people are born with abnormal joints (congenital malformations) that are susceptible to mechanical wear, causing early degeneration and loss of joint cartilage. Hormonal disorders, such as diabetes and growth hormone disorders, are also associated with early cartilage wear and secondary osteoporosis.
What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?
Osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints. Unlike many other forms of arthritis that are systemic, such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus, osteoarthritis does not affect other organs of the body. The most common symptom of osteoarthritis is pain in the affected joint(s) after repeated use.
Joint pain is usually worse later in the day. There can be swelling, warmth, and creaking in the affected joints. Joint pain and stiffness can also occur after long periods of inactivity. In severe osteoarthritis, complete loss of the cartilage cushion causes friction between the bones, causing pain at rest or pain with limited movement.
Symptoms of osteoporosis vary greatly from patient to patient. On the other hand, others may have remarkably few symptoms despite the dramatic joint degeneration seen on X-ray. Symptoms can also be intermittent. It is not uncommon for patients with osteoarthritis of the hands and knees to have years of pain-free breaks between symptoms.
Osteoarthritis of the knees is often associated with obesity or a history of recurrent injury and/or joint surgery. Progressive costochondritis of the knee joints can lead to a deformity and outward curvature of the knees referred to as ‘arch legs’. Patients with osteoarthritis of the weight-bearing joints (such as the knees) can develop lameness. The lameness can worsen as more cartilage deteriorates.
Osteoarthritis of the spine causes pain in the neck or lower back. Bone spurs that form along the spine with arthritis can irritate spinal nerves, causing severe pain, numbness, and tingling in the affected parts of the body.
Osteoarthritis causes hard, bony enlargement of the small joints of the fingers. Osteoarthritis of the fingers and toes may have a genetic basis, and it can be found in many women in some families.
How can osteoporosis be diagnosed?
There is no blood test to diagnose osteoporosis. Blood tests are done to exclude diseases that can cause secondary osteoporosis, as well as to exclude other arthritis conditions that can mimic osteoarthritis.
X-rays of affected joints can indicate osteoarthritis. Common X-ray findings for arthritis include loss of joint cartilage, narrowing of the joint space between adjacent bones and the formation of bone spurs. A simple X-ray test can be very useful to rule out other causes of pain in a particular joint as well as help make a decision as to when surgery should be considered.