The joints are the parts of the body that allow movement. When they are injured, worn down, or otherwise compromised, movement is also compromised, limiting the person’s ability to work and enjoy themselves. There are several common types of joint disease, all of which can be categorized into two different types, with several causes.
Degenerative issues are related to trauma or aging. These are simply problems that result when the cartilage of the joints breaks down, which reduces the smooth functioning they usually perform. This can cause stiffness, ‘sticky’ joints, and pain related to rubbing and pressing where the body is not meant to be doing so. Degenerative changes can occur in one joint after a trauma, or in many joints during old age.
Inflammatory issues can result from infection, autoimmune disorders, and other reactions. In these cases, blood flow to the affected joints is increased, causing redness, swelling, and often soreness. Sometimes the symptom is treated, while in other cases, it makes more sense to treat the cause. Your doctor will need to decide what treatment is warranted. Inflammation of the joints can be a symptom of a serious illness, so get it checked out.
It is worth noting, however, that inflammation of a single joint is unlikely to be an infection or autoimmune disorder. Instead, this is probably related to trauma, and may need a doctor’s attention but likely does not single any larger problem. Inflammation from injuries can be managed with ice, rest, and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Infections can be the cause of either degenerative or inflammatory changes in the joints. Certain symptoms are related to certain infections, and swelling of the joints can be part of a set of symptoms involved in certain sexually transmitted infections. Infections in the area can also cause tissue damage, which can result in degenerative changes even after the infection is treated.
Autoimmune disorders can attack the joints, causing pain, swelling and damage in the long run. A common autoimmune disorder that affects the joints is rheumatoid arthritis. In patients with RA, the immune system starts to attack itself, and damages the cartilage in the joints while simultaneously causing inflammation and swelling.
Osteoarthritis is perhaps the most common issue affecting the joints. This condition affects, at least to some extent, the majority of older adults. It is related to damage in the cartilage caused by the many years of wear it has encountered. It is often worse in patients who have spent their lives doing repetitive movements, as this can wear away the cartilage more quickly in one area of the body.
Almost all types of joint disease need to be treated by a physician. In some cases, there is nothing the physician can do except provide painkillers and anti-inflammatories, but even this is important, because many of these disorders tend to get worse the more sedentary the patient is. In other cases, such as infection and auto-immune disorders, it is important that the patient be put on the proper medication so that serious secondary issues don’t crop up.