Osteoarthritis is known as a syndrome of painful joints, degeneration of cartilage that acts as a cushion of the joints, and it affects people from the middle-age bracket to the elderly. The disease is primarily described as the chronic and progressive degeneration of joint cartilage. Most of the time, there is presence of swelling in the joints or intraarticular inflammation. There are changes that can be observed in the surrounding tissues and bone of the affected joints.
The cartilage in the joint works just like a cushion, like a shock absorbent. It absorbs and minimizes mechanical loads, reduces friction in the joints so that the two attached bones can move with sheer fluidity without discomfort or pain. Over time, natural lubrication of the articular cartilage is lost or depleted naturally, this depletion causes friction on the surface of the bones. Imagine two stones rubbing together. They produce friction resulting to sparks. For bones, when they rub together without proper lubrication, they eventually form osteophytes or bone spurs. There are cases when fragments of torn cartilage may break and float inside the articular tissues. This produces irritation, and in worst scenarios, damage to the joints.
Osteoarthritis, the most common form of joint inflammation is defined as gradual articular cartilage degeneration, fissures, cracks, and fibrillation may then form and extra-cellular matrix is lost within the bones. After many years of constant wear and tear, the joint capsule, the muscles surrounding the joint, and the synovial membrane also gets gradually damaged.
The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis include stiffness of the joints, and pain during movement especially in the morning. Of course there is limited mobility, and lower pain tolerance also occurs. You can easily distinguish people with osteoarthritis because their fingers exhibit a gnarled appearance and may even manifest crepitus. It is the funny crackling noise that is heard during movement of the affected joints especially on the first few months after its onset.