What Causes Osteoarthritis

What causes osteoarthritisOsteoarthritis is a disease of the joints and the surrounding area: “Osteoarthritis usually occurs in the hands and weight-bearing joints such as hips, knees, feet and spine” (1). This disease causes the cartilage to break down in between the affected joints and leads to painful swelling and inflammation in the joint. Cartilage in our bones is very important to the mechanics that take place while our joints are moving. It is a vital element of healthy joints and pain free living because it covers the ends of the bones in between the joints and allows the bones to glide over each other without creating friction. Cartilage is to the body as oil is to a machine. It keeps you moving smoothly and efficiently by minimizing the impact we create when our foot strikes the ground during walking or running. This “padding” works as a shock absorber to ensure that each step is comfortably supported in the joints. As osteoarthritis sets in and causes the cartilage to wear down or “degenerate,” the bones begin to rub together and cause friction that leads to pain, inflammation, and eventually loss of motion in the joint. During the degeneration process, it is even possible that bits of cartilage or bone chip off and fall apart due to the lack of cushioning in the joints. These fragments of cartilage and bone can often lodge in the joint area and lead to even more pain and suffering. There are multiple ways of treating Osteoarthritis (or OA). Most involve reducing inflammation and the intensity of the pain.

Osteoarthritis affects over 27 million Americans and can often be so painful that it leads to immobility and debilitation (2). It is crucial to take a proactive stance when battling OA, and learn about the actual causes of the disease; knowing about the causes of OA may prevent an individual from dealing with the disease altogether.