Saving your knees 1
We used to think that with the passage of time, a certain amount of wear and tear on your joints are inevitable. This is not true. Osteoarthritis is a condition once thought to be due simply to wear and tear on the cartilage of a joint. Osteoarthritis is now known to be a complex process that involves an active disease process.
Normal joint surfaces are covered with a smooth layer of cartilage. This cartilage is the surface that is worn thin in a condition called osteoarthritis. The problem that causes osteoarthritis is due to more wearing away (degradation) and less repair of the cartilage surface. There is both a mechanical (wearing away) part of osteoarthritis, and a biologic (abnormal joint biology) part of the disease.
Research over the past decade has focused on finding the underlying causes of osteoarthritis, and how understanding these causes may shape future treatments. The medical community is now aware that patients who have osteoarthritis likely have multiple risk factors that have led to their development of this condition.
It is known that osteoarthritis tends to affect older individuals, but it is not clear why some people develop arthritic changes in their 40s and 50s, while others live long lives with few joint problems.
People once thought that osteoarthritis was simply due to the demands an individual placed on their joints throughout life. Many people attribute their arthritis to the activities of their youth. But it really is not that simple. Many people who run and play competitive sports have no problems with arthritic joints.
It is now understood that osteoarthritis is not an inevitable part of ageing. It seems as though a combination of different factors leads to the development of osteoarthritis in individuals. In different people, different factors may be more important, but it is unusual to have just one underlying problem that causes osteoarthritis.
If you have osteoarthritis physicians must better understand the disease to best find an individual solution. While osteoarthritis was once thought to be confined to the cartilage surface, it is now known that osteoarthritis affects the entire joint causing loss of cartilage, damage to bone, the formation of bone spurs, and inflammation of the soft tissues.
Cartilage undergoes a normal cycle of breakdown and repair, but in the condition of osteoarthritis, the cartilage is not replaced effectively, and ultimately the joint lining wears thin. The fundamental problem of osteoarthritis is thought to be the imbalance between fresh cartilage production, and natural degradation.
As the joint surface wears away, the body attempts to correct the problem. Your body will initiate an inflammatory response to the joint, causing swelling. New bone in the form of bone spurs is created to increase the joint surface area. Unfortunately, your body cannot compensate for the cartilage that is lost, and the painful condition of osteoarthritis is the result.