Oftentimes patients and doctors will equate osteoarthritis as a disease of wear and tear in the joints as well as old age. Although osteoarthritis usually does accompany old age researchers have found that cartilage in the joint becomes chemically different than a joint that does not have the disease.
Researchers have also found that there are usually a series of events which lead to the development of the condition and that, while it is often associated with old age, that association isn’t enough to trigger osteoarthritis. These particular events involve both the use and breakdown of the cartilage as well as the production and maintenance in the joints. The joints which are effective in are usually the larger weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips. These provide the majority of the cushion when we are doing any weight-bearing exercise such as walking or running.
Athletes who perform repetitive motion exercises, such as rowing or tennis, will find that osteoarthritis can also develop in the elbow and shoulder areas.
Researchers believe that a genetic component may also be responsible for the development but have not yet conclusively found a link. May have found a higher correlation in the development of osteoarthritis when a parent has the condition and a child subsequently developed it.
Researchers theorize that a gene identified in the year 2000 regulates the production of pyrophspate, which inhibits the formation of mineral deposits in the joints. They theorize that this particular chemical may protect the cartilage and were encouraged to find that approximately 60% of individuals who suffer from osteoarthritis do have mineral deposits in their joints, pointing to the identification of this gene as a trigger to osteoarthritis.
Individuals who suffer from osteoarthritis will also exhibit muscle weakness in large muscle groups, especially the quadricep muscles. Researchers, however, are not sure if it is the arthritis in the knee which causes the individual to decrease their exercise and therefore muscle strength or if it is the arthritis which causes the decrease in muscle strength. They also theorize that this weakness, especially in the quadricep muscles, may predates the development of Osseo arthritis and actually trigger the degeneration of the joints. Researchers do know that the stronger the muscle mass, the better able the body is able to protect the joints.
Other anatomical reasons which may be involved in the development of this condition include individuals who are “bow legged” or “knock kneed”. Researchers have found that these individuals are more likely to develop aggressive off to arthritis in their knees while other researcher has found that individuals born with Neves who don’t meet smoothly have cartilage that isn’t formed correctly. This predisposes them to the wear and tear associated with osteoarthritis.
Based on this previous research doctors also know that injuries play a large part in the changes that occur in large joints which lead to Osteoarthritis. Individuals who have knee injuries early in life have shown a 16% more likelihood to develop arthritis in the affected knee than those who had no injury. Other medical conditions which has been found to play a part development of this condition is hemophilia, during which individuals have the potential to lead into the joints and damage the cartilage, or individuals with chronic gout or pseudogout who have mineral deposits in the joints from the crystals. Unfortunately individuals who already suffer from rheumatoid arthritis can also show the damaging effects of Osteoarthritis because of the inflammatory changes caused to the cartilage.
Although researchers and physicians have not fully identify the causes of osteoarthritis they have identified triggers and predisposing conditions which can be addressed in order to potentially delay the onset or stop the development of this painful disease.
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