A chronic degenerative disease due to gradual progressive damage to the joint characterized by:
With progression, joints appear swollen, become stiff and are extremely painful.
Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis.
Arthritis is caused by mechanical stress with insufficient self-repair:
Related to but not caused by aging
As a person ages, the water content of the cartilage decreases as a result of reduced cartilage tissue components (aggrecan, chondroitin sulphate and hyaluronic acid) reducing the cartilages resilience.
With the loss of proteoglycans (aggrecan is an important component) the collagen fibres in the cartilage become susceptible to degeneration.
Degeneration and breakdown of cartilage leads to inflammation in the joint which is aggravated by activity and leads to the development of pain.
New bones growth called ‘spurs’ or osteophytes can form in the margins of the joints which are:
Osteoarthritis can occur in all synovial joints that allow movement.
The most common areas for osteoarthritis are:
Cartilage Structural Changes
Osteoarthritis results in progressive cartilage degradation characterized by the softening and erosion of the cartilage surface.
Breakdown of cartilage components (proteoglycans – aggrecan) leads to a decrease in the compressive stiffness of the cartilage that in turn accelerates the rate of collagen loss in the cartilage.
Osteophyte (bone spurs) formation, bone remodelling and synovial membrane inflammation occur resulting in further tissue degradation.
In the early phase of osteoarthritis, destructive enzymes are expressed due to repeated mechanical activity which enhances cartilage breakdown.
Osteoarthritis induced cartilage damage follows multiple cell destructive cascades that once activated result in irreversible damage to the tissue.
There is no cure for osteoarthritis. A combination of treatment options to control the symptoms are:
Surgical procedures include: