Joint Pain and Orthopedic Conditions
Muscle pain related to strain and tension is the cause of most acute cases of back pain. On the other hand, chronic pain more commonly involves arthritic changes to the joints of the body. Let's take a look at joint pain and orthopedic conditions, and how we may recover from them to the point that we experience pain relief.
Arthritis: Arthritis defines is inflammation of the joints. These joints may experience short term injuries - related to trauma or infection - or long term injuries - related to degeneration of the joint cartilage. Arthritis involves the breakdown of cartilage which separate bones that rotate, slide, or bend against one another. When there is a normal volume of cartilage in joints, the bones remain separated from one another and cushion the weight-bearing joints of the body. Without enough cartilage between the articulating bones, stiffness, swelling (inflammation), and pain may develop.
Joint inflammation may result as a result of:
- Infections. Infections may develop as a result of complications of surgery. Infections are usually viral or bacterial.
- Broken bones and fractures
- Disease. Several types of autoimmune diseases affect the joints as they change the way our body's immune systems function. Many autoimmune diseases cause the body to be unable to recognize the joint tissues in our body as familiar and healthy. As a result, our immune system attacks and damages joint tissues.
- General wear and tear on our joints. Degenerative wear and tear changes to our joints happen to all of use, though there are exercise and lifestyle changes that may make and adhere to slow the aging process of these structures.
Arthritis is not always an irreversible condition. The inflammation in our joints may cease as the bones heal, the infection is eliminated from the body, and outbreaks of autoimmune disease quiet down. In some cases, though, the eroded cartilage caused by certain joint condition may not regenerate, and patient may experience chronic arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of chronic arthritis. Let's take a closer look at osteoarthritis and the other most common types of arthritis.
- Sclerodema: Scleroderma is a type of autoimmune disorder or no known cause; though people who have had continued exposure to substances such as polyvinyl chloride and silica dust seem to be at an increased risk. Scleroderma is a connective tissue disease that causes damage to our body's internal organs, muscles, blood vessels, and skin. People between the ages of 30-50 are the most commonly affected by this disease.
Those affected with this disease have a buildup of collagen in the skin and body tissues.
There are two forms of this disease: localized and systemic scleroderma.
Localized scleroderma is a milder form of this condition and typically affects the skin on the face and hands. This condition usually doesn't affect the skin throughout the body or the internal organs.
Systemic scleroderma may affect large swaths of skin as well as vital internal organs, including the kidneys, lungs, and heart.
- Osteoarthritis: The cartilage in our joints separates the bones as the slide and glide against one another. This protective structure may wear our due to a number of factors - most of all time - to the point that the bones actually contact one another. This rubbing together of the bones may cause stiffness, swelling, and pain. This friction between the bones may change the shape of the bones, causing things like osteophytes (bone spurs) and a thickening of the bone around the joint. These changes may cause the muscles and ligaments around the joint to become weaker.
One interesting thing about osteoarthritis is that while most of us middle aged or older have it, many of us don't experience symptoms of it, in the form of pain and stiffness. Two people with nearly identical X-rays and MRIs may have vastly different lifestyles regarding how comfortable they are on a day to day basis.
Arthritis may affect people of all ages and genders. Here are some factors that may increase or decrease the likelihood of developing arthritis.
Genetic Link: Osteoarthritis appears to have a genetic link as it runs in families.
Obesity: Obesity causes more weights and pressures on the weight-bearing joints.
Fractures and other injuries increase the likelihood that you will have arthritis in the affected joints when you get older. Injuries that include sprains to the ligaments and joint damage may affect you later in life.
Occupational hazards: Certain work requirements may cause you to overtax the muscles and ligaments of your body beyond points and positions that they could manage in a healthy way. Jobs that require more than an hour a day of kneeling or squatting may accelerate the aging process of the joints in your legs, hips, and lower back. Jobs that require walking, stair climbing, and lifting may put you at an increased risk.
High impact sports: High impact sports that may cause excessive stress on your joint include those that require regular throwing (ex. baseball), twisting motions (ex. Soccer, basketball), and direct impact on the joint (ex. football).