Common Conditions that Affect the Joints

Common Conditions that Affect the Joints | Dr. Ali Ghahary

The joints are what form the connections between your bones and provide your body with support as well as help you move. When your joints become damaged, that movement is interfered and can result in pain. As for what causes damage to the joints, there are a number of reasons – though the most common include disease or injury. Below we take a look at a few of the specific joint-related diseases and injuries in depth, and what you can do to prevent them or find relief.

Osteoarthritis

OA is one of the most common disorders of the joints that people are diagnosed with. It occurs when the cartilage between the joints wears down and causes the bones to rub together, resulting in swelling, pain and stiffness. There are a number of factors that can contribute to developing OA, including family history, certain medical conditions, weight, playing certain sports that impact the joints, overuse of the joints, certain medical conditions, as well as if you have a history of joint injuries. In order to prevent osteoarthritis, it is important that you maintain a healthy body weight so that there is less pressure put on your joints. Strengthening the muscles with exercise can also be helpful for the joints.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

RA is an autoimmune disease that causes the joints and surrounding tissues to become inflamed. It is most common in individuals who are middle-aged but can also still occur at any age. The most common symptoms associated with RA include stiffness – especially in the mornings, as well as pain and swelling of the wrists, hands, and/or feet. As for what causes rheumatoid arthritis, that is not known, but it has been thought to be linked to everything from genes to changes in hormones, and even infections. There is no known preventative measure against RA, so it is instead all about alleviating symptoms – which is often done through pain medications, such as NSAIDs, as well as other medications, such as corticosteroids.

Bursitis

Bursitis is a condition that causes the fluid-filled sac known as the bursa (which cushions the muscles, tendons and joints) to become swollen and irritated. Symptoms include swelling, warmth and redness over the affected joint, and you may also experience stiffness and/or aching upon movement as well as pain and tenderness when applying pressure to the affected area. In some cases, what causes bursitis is unknown, though it is more commonly the result of overuse, or it can also be caused by trauma, infection, and other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout. If you have bursitis you should avoid activities that involve repetitive movements and instead rest and modify your activity. You may also find relief by icing the area, taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), with corticosteroid injections, and physical therapy.

Gout

This is a condition that usually only affects one joint, such as a toe, and usually occurs in middle aged individuals or later in life. With gout you will usually experience sudden swelling and pain of the affected area, and this tends to occur at night. When you have gout, this means that your uric acid levels are too high, and there are several factors that can lead to this occurring – for example, eating seafood or certain organ meats (such as liver) as well as drinking alcohol. Gout attacks have also been associated with some diuretics, also known as water pills. To help prevent an attack, you should avoid any known triggers. Your doctor will also be able to prescribe you medication.