Arthritis is simply the clinical term for joint inflammation. Various types of arthritis are common, and they lead to pain and stiffness in the joints. Two of the most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, yet they affect the joints in different ways.
Since we’re all about your joints here at Pinehurst Surgical, let’s spend this blog noting how these forms of arthritis affect your joints.
A joint is simply the place where two bones meet. The muscles surrounding a joint move the bones. Muscles are joined to the bones with tendons. At the ends of the bones are layers of cartilage that provide cushion and shock absorption between the bones and prevents them from rubbing against each other. The joint is surrounded by a membrane, called the synovium, which produces a thick fluid that lubricates the joint. The synovium is enclosed by the capsule, which holds the joint together with fibrous bands called ligaments.
Osteoarthritis and your joints
Osteoarthritis affects the entire joint, all of the above pieces. This “wear and tear” arthritis breaks down the cartilage, making it flaky and rough. Pieces may come loose and float about in the synovial fluid. This deterioration in the cartilage leaves the bones unprotected.
As the cartilage thins, the bones around it thicken and may develop bone spurs on the ends. Microfractures may occur in the ends of the bones. The joint capsule and ligaments stretch and may thicken in an attempt to stabilize the changing joint. This can cause inflammation throughout the joint to all the soft tissues.
Osteoarthritis commonly affects these joints: knees, hips, neck, lower back, and the hands.
Rheumatoid arthritis and your joints
Whereas osteoarthritis is due to age and wear and tear, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, where your immune system attacks the tissues in the joints, causing inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis particularly affects the synovial membrane. This creates an overproduction of synovial fluid, which causes the joints to swell and the capsule to stretch. This causes pain and affects mobility in the joint.
This inflammation causes damage to the cartilage and even the bone ends. The inflammation, if left unaddressed, can result in destruction of the joint. Adjoining tendons can also become inflamed and wear down.
Rheumatoid arthritis commonly affects these joints: wrists, hands, fingers, ankles, toes, shoulders, and the knees.
If you have joint pain, you may have one of these forms of arthritis. This isn’t something to “soldier” through. Call Dr. Moore and our team at Pinehurst Surgical, (910) 295-0224, to make your appointment.