Joints are where two bones come together, connected by ligaments and muscles for stability. Bones also have a layer of smooth, white tissue called articular cartilage. This tissue helps distribute compression forces and allow for smooth gliding when we move. Thanks to our healthy joints we can move, run, jump, twist and turn.
Healthy joints also play an important role in preventing early-onset of pain and joint replacement surgeries, especially at the hip and knee.
As we age it’s natural that our bodies go through normal wear and tear over time. Our joints can be affected too if we don’t proactively keep them in good shape. Osteoarthritis is a very common condition which can affect any joint in the body. It is most likely to affect the joints that bear most of our weight, such as the knees and feet. Joints that we use a lot in everyday life, such as the joints of the hand, are also commonly affected.
Besides aging, obesity, previous joint injury and overuse are possible osteoarthritis risk factors. Genetic factors, pre-existing joint disorders such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and metabolic diseases may cause osteoarthritis too.
Wear and tear at the joint cartilage cause systemic and local inflammation in the joints. This cause pain, joint degeneration and loss of joint function such as loss of range of motion.
Common symptoms are joint pain and stiffness which typically occur after activity or towards the end of the day. Weather changes may make the pain worse, especially damp weather. Affected joints may swell after extended activity and there are clicking or cracking sounds when a joint bends. Bony swelling may be seen.