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Know Your Joints

IllusThe human musculoskeletal system consists of the human skeleton, made by bones attached to other bones with Joints, and skeletal muscle attached to the skeleton by tendons. Human skeletal system provides the framework which supports the body and maintains its shape. The Joints between bones permit movement, some allowing a wider range of movement than others.

1. How joint pain develops

The common disorder found in joints is Arthritis. Arthritis is a major cause for joint pain. Pain is often constant and is localized to the joint affected. The pain from arthritis occurs due to inflammation that occurs around the joint, damage to the joint from disease, daily wear and tear of joint,
Illus muscle strains caused by forceful movements against stiff, painful joints and fatigue.

Risk factors associated with arthritis

There are certain factors that may increase the risk of arthritis. They can be classified as:

a. Modifiable risk factors

These risk factors can be managed by lifestyle modifications. Overweight and obesity, joint injuries, infections and occupations that increase stress on joints may lead to increased incidence of arthritis.

b. Non modifiable risk factors

These are factors that cannot be changed through lifestyle modifications. Age, female gender and heredity are non modifiable risk factors.

There are different forms of arthritis. Osteoarthritis or Degenerative joint disease is the commonly seen arthritis in people.

2. Osteoarthritis

a. Little known facts on Osteoarthritis
  1. Awareness of Osteoarthritis is low compared to diabetes, HIV and cancer.
  2. Osteoarthritis accounts for half of all chronic conditions in people over 65 years.
  3. In USA, it's the main culprit for work loss.
  4. 2 out of 5 Indians who are 70 years or above suffer from it.
  5. Commonly seen as an old-age problem, it's now affecting people in their thirties.
  6. Osteoarthritis is the second most prevalent disease after diabetes in the age bracket of 25-35 years.
  7. Natural wear and tear of the cartilage, insufficient exercise, reduced physical activity and inadequate nutrition contribute largely to Osteoarthritis.
b. What causes Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition of "Cartilage" in joints. Cartilage is a tough and flexible connective tissue found covering at the ends of bone joints. Cartilage prevents bones from rubbing against each other and acts as cushion during movements. Cartilage is a part of rib cage, the ear, the nose, the elbow, the knee, the ankle, the bronchial tubes and the intervertebral discs. Cartilage is made up of collagens, proteoglycans, and non-collagenous proteins and water.

Unlike other connective tissues, cartilage does not contain blood vessels. Because of this, it heals very slowly. The nutrients are absorbed by chondrocytes (cartilage) by diffusion, helped by the pumping action generated by compression of the articular cartilage. Thus, compared to other connective tissues, cartilage grows and repairs more slowly.

Osteoarthritis typically strikes the weight bearing joints (Knees, Hips, Back joint), hands and spine. Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease and mostly affects the knee. Illus Ageing, obesity, extreme physical work, injuries causes wear and tear to cartilage and leads to cartilage damage.

Progressive cartilage degeneration can cause pain and inflammation. With severe osteoarthritis, articular cartilage can completely wear away so that the affected joint no longer has its cushion and it begins to rub bone-on-bone.In such cases, there is significant pain, loss of motion, and functional disability associated with the affected joint. Damage to articular cartilage can be seen on x-ray. On x-ray, cartilage damage is seen as narrowing of the joint space between the bones that form the joint. In the knee, loss of articular cartilage typically correlates with loss of meniscal cartilage. Loss of articular cartilage causes extra stress on the ends of the bones that form the joint. The extra stress on the ends of the bones in the joint can cause osteophytes, or bone spurs, to form at the margins of the joint.

c. There are two forms of Osteoarthritis:
i. Primary osteoarthritis
The reason for Primary osteoarthritis is mainly abnormal stresses on healthy joints or by normal stresses on weakened joints. The primary osteoarthritis mainly affects finger joints, hips and knees, the lower joints of the spine and the big toe. Ageing, obesity and Genetic factors can also contribute to primary osteoarthritis

ii. Secondary arthritis
Secondary arthritis can develop after injury to a joint — sometimes many years later

3. What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?

The common symptoms of osteoarthritis are:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Bony enlargement and swelling
Osteoarthritis causes excruciating pain and restricted movement of joints. So it affects daily activities, such as climbing stairs or walking or opening jars.

4. How to manage osteoarthritis?

Early detection and early treatment of osteoarthritis can help to prevent further cartilage damage. The best chance for preventing or slowing cartilage damage comes with early treatment. Medications that are used to control osteoarthritis and other types of arthritis, joint protection techniques, and good body mechanics help to maintain healthy cartilage. Once joint damage becomes severe and interferes with daily living, one have to undergo joint replacement surgery.

Today’s medications are mainly focusing on reducing symptoms rather than treating its root cause. So most of the medicines are for relieving pain and no 100% curative treatments are available for osteoarthritis.

Preventing the wear and tear of cartilage and controlling the progression of osteoarthritis with good quality diet is the only solution for managing osteoarthritis

Collagen is an important protein for maintaining the health of cartilage and Gelixer CollagenPep contains collagen protein in an easily absorbable form called collagen peptide (also known as Gelatin Hydrolysate, Collagen Hydrolysate or Hydrolysed Collagen). Daily intake of Gelixer CollagenPep promotes health of cartilage.

Click here to read about other types of arthritis which affects joints

5. Lifestyle Modifications for Arthritis Management

Lifestyle modifications can control the progression of disease. Exercise is a vital part of arthritis treatment. Arthritis patients must participate in regular exercise to improve joint function. Dietary modifications are important in managing arthritis in patients. Dietary factors may not only help in easing the pain but also in reducing the chance of complications. Some forms of arthritis like Gout has a close relationship with dietary practices.

a. Maintain ideal body weight

Obese people are more prone to arthritis because, excess weight puts an added burden on weight-bearing joints. It is advisable to have light meals that are healthy. For patients who are obese it is always advisable to try to reduce the weight gradually as fasting or crash diet may do more harm than good.

b. Eat a well-balanced diet

Diet should compromise of all the major food groups like cereals, pulses, milk, flesh, foods, vegetables, fruits, fats and sugars.