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Jun 29

Pathophysiology of osteoarthritis: Symptoms, causes, and risk factors – Medical News Today

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a joint disease affecting the entire joint, including the cartilage, bone, and joint lining.

Lifestyle factors, age, joint injury, and genetics can all contribute to OA and cause the breakdown of cartilage in the joints.

This can lead to inflammation and changes in the bones and joint tissues. People may experience joint pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion.

This article looks at the changes that occur in OA and how these cause symptoms.

OA is a disease of the whole joint, which includes:

In OA, cartilage breaks down, which results in changes to the bone and joint tissues. Alongside inflammation, this can cause pain, stiffness, and loss of flexibility.

OA can occur in any joint, but it most often affects the knees, hips, lower back, neck, and hands.

The symptoms of OA may appear gradually and can include:

OA causes inflammation, changes in bone shape, and cartilage deterioration. It is primarily a disease affecting the cartilage.

OA occurs due to a combination of factors, including:

People with the condition have higher levels of pro-inflammatory markers, which indicate inflammation, and proteases, which are enzymes that break down protein. These eventually cause joint deterioration.

In most cases, the first changes that occur in the body due to OA affect the articular cartilage. This is the cartilage covering the ends of the bones where they meet at the joint.

The articular cartilage may erode or become irregular, split, or frayed. If there are erosions in the cartilage, these may gradually expand down to bone level and affect more of the joint surface.

Cartilage consists of water and the matrix, which is a gel-like substance containing different types of protein:

Articular cartilage contains a group of cells called chondrocytes, which produce and maintain the matrix.

Injury or damage to the cartilage can cause damage to the matrix, resulting in chondrocytes multiplying and forming clusters. This causes bony lumps to form called bone spurs.

Damage to the matrix can also cause thickening of the bone underneath the cartilage and may sometimes cause fluid-filled areas in the bone called bone cysts.

Alongside these changes to the cartilage, there may be inflammation of the joints synovium.

These changes can occur gradually, and people may slowly start to experience symptoms of OA, such as pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion.

Learn more about cartilage damage.

Certain risk factors may increase the likelihood of OA. These include:

The complications of OA may include:

According to the Arthritis Foundation (AF), people with OA have an increased risk of falling, which, in turn, raises the risk of fractures.

This increased risk is due to the fact that OA particularly OA of the knees or hips can affect balance, weaken muscles, and reduce joint function.

If medications for OA cause dizziness, this may also increase the risk of falls.

The AF also states that weight gain may occur in people with OA if joint pain causes difficulty exercising. Carrying excess weight can lead to various health problems, such as:

If people have concerns about OA complications, they can talk with a healthcare professional about minimizing the risks. The healthcare professional may recommend lifestyle changes, exercise programs, and assistive devices to improve stability.

The following conditions may cause symptoms similar to those of OA:

Learn more about the possible causes of joint pain.

The outlook for people with OA may depend on which joints the disease affects, the severity of the symptoms, and how the condition affects everyday function.

Some people may find that OA has little effect on their day-to-day life, while others may have more severe symptoms that affect their ability to carry out everyday tasks.

Treatments can help people manage OA symptoms. In some cases, joint replacement surgery may provide the best long-term outcome for a person with OA.

OA occurs when the cartilage in joints breaks down, causing changes to the bone and joint tissues. The symptoms include pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.

Various risk factors, such as age and genetics, can combine to cause production of pro-inflammatory markers and proteases, which eventually lead to joint deterioration.

Exercise, medications, and, in some cases, surgery can help manage the symptoms of OA and minimize further joint damage.

Read more here:
Pathophysiology of osteoarthritis: Symptoms, causes, and risk factors - Medical News Today

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