Osteoarthritis affects almost everyone - the older we get, the more likely our joints will not withstand the constant strain. Being overweight adds to the workload of the joints. In addition to arteriosclerosis and bone loss, joint wear and tear is one of the three most important diseases in old age.
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a chronic joint disease that results primarily from articular cartilage wear. Over time, the entire cartilaginous layer on the articular surface is destroyed, gradually damaging the adjacent bone tissue as well. Osteoarthritis mainly occurs with increasing age and is one of the most common causes of pain and restricted mobility in the joint area.
Osteoarthritis can occur anywhere in our body where there is articular cartilage. Most often affected are:
- the spine
- the knee (gonarthrosis)
- the hand
This is followed by the hip (coxarthrosis), the foot and toe joints, the shoulder and elbow. If the wear affects several joints simultaneously, it is called polyarthrosis.
Causes of Osteoarthritis
An arthrosis arises in principle due to a mismatch between the stress on the joint and its resilience. Thus, an increased stress, for example, by overweight or competitive sports, as well as a Fehlbelastung, for example, by X-legs.
Other triggering or reinforcing factors of osteoarthritis are:
- Metabolic disorders such as gout, diabetes or hemophilia
- joint injuries
- acute or chronic inflammation of the joint (arthritis)
Is osteoarthritis hereditary?
Osteoarthritis is not a hereditary disease, but the system of osteoarthritis may be inherited in some cases. Genetic factors play a role in particular in the quality and resilience of the articular cartilage. But leg bone malformations and joint deformities that can trigger osteoarthritis are hereditary.
Other risk factors for the development of arthritis such as metabolic disorders or rheumatic diseases can be inherited. The exact cause is rarely found in detail, especially as often several factors interact.
What happens with osteoarthritis?
In the initial phase, the elasticity of the articular cartilage decreases. The cartilage tissue softens and tears. As a result of the stress, cartilage is increasingly rubbed off, the layer thins out and the joint inner skin tends to cause painful inflammatory reactions, in particular at the weight-bearing joints (activated arthrosis). This process progresses, the functioning joint surface is getting smaller.
Without the protective cartilage, the bone changes: it increasingly forms bone substance to compensate for the strain. At the edges of the articular surface bead-like bone attachments form, which prevent the movement more and more, and the joint deforms (Arthrosis deformans).
Summary: What benefits osteoarthritis?
The following factors favor the development of osteoarthritis:
- Chronic overload due to repeated minor injuries
- Deformities such as X-legs, O-legs or hip dysplasia
- Fractures with joint involvement
- lack of strengthening of the muscles surrounding the joint
- meniscus damage
- Injuries to ligaments and joint capsule