Causes and Symptoms of Knee Arthritis

Our knee joint is where the femur and tibia meets. This unique combination allows a wide range of motion for the knee under undisturbed conditions. However due to certain complications such as injuries, the surface of the knee joint is damaged and mobility is hindered as a result. There are basically 3 kinds of arthritis affecting the knee: Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Post-trauma Arthritis. In this article, we will be looking at the causes and symptoms of knee arthritis.

Causes

We must first understand the differences between the 3 kinds of knee arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of knee arthritis and is a degenerative disease that is often accompanied by ageing. Due to wear and tear, the joint cartilage starts to wear off and this results in pain and inflammation when the knee joint rubs against each other. On the other hand, unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which our body’s immune system attacks the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis can happen to anyone from any age group. Last but not least is post-trauma arthritis which is essentially caused by direct trauma to the knee. This direct trauma causes damage to the cartilage and changes the joint mechanics, accelerating wear and tear.

Symptoms

Pain

Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something located somewhere in your body is wrong. Pain is due to the secretion of chemical signals to your brain which are then recognised as pain. Knee arthritis causes inflammation to the affected joint. This inflammation causes swelling and damages the surrounding soft tissues. In an attempt to reduce stresses on the injured part, the surrounding muscles will try to overload themselves but this will cause muscle soreness after a period of time, contributing to the pain experienced.

Crepitus

Crepitus is characterised by a creaking and grinding sensation when you attempt to move your injured joint.  This is due to cartilage wear down in the spaces between the knee joints. Crepitus can be painful or painless depending on individual conditions.

Knee giving way

Some patients may experience sensations of their knee giving way. This is due to the joint being unstable and the surrounding muscles being fatigued from having to take over the duties of the injured joint. Patients may require walking aids such as a walker or crutches and may use knee braces to stabilise and provide support to the knee joint.

There are various methods of managing arthritis ranging from oral supplements to surgery. However, these do not effectively heal the patient. Scientists are looking at cartilage transplants in the future which could lessen the amount of pain.

Does Cracking Knuckles Give You Arthritis?

Cracking knuckles is a bad habit most males have. It seems to give them a sense of security and power. So what really causes that cracking sound? Well, our knuckles are covered by the synovial capsule which is filled with synovial fluid. There are also gases that are dissolved in the fluid such as oxygen and carbon dioxide. When the knuckle is cracked, the synovial capsule is stretched and the internal pressure is lowered, creating a bubble which eventually bursts, creating that popping sound. This is also the reason why you are unable to crack your knuckles continuously due to the need for the gases and bubbles to form. However, many people are extremely concerned with relationship between cracking knuckles and arthritis. There are 2 major types of arthritis namely the inflammatory and degenerative types. For inflammatory arthritis, it is largely due to autoimmunity. Degenerative arthritis is those associated with wear and tear and has a closer similarity with cracking of knuckles. Let’s try to clarify those doubts in this article.

Cracking fingers seem to relieve stresses and provide a pleasurable feeling similar to Thai Massages where various joints in your body are cracked by the masseuse. Well, cracking knuckles does not increase the chances of getting arthritis. Various studies have not only conducted experiments on people who crack their knuckles, they also investigated people who frequently crack every few minutes. However, the results concluded that there was no difference in the rates of osteoarthritis with the cracking of knuckles. Not only that, no visible deformation was caused to the fingers due to prolonged cracking. Some research also found out that subjects who crack their fingers frequently have strong fingers compared to the control group. While cracking of knuckles may not seem to cause arthritis, they may lead to other complications. Researchers found out that habitual knuckle crackers are more likely to suffer from hand swelling and loss of strength. Constant cracking will keep stretching the finger ligaments, causing damages to the fingers.  In short, they concluded that knuckle cracking results in functional hand impairment.

While knuckle cracking does not have a directly related to arthritis, it can lead to future problems such as swelling and loss of strength. Arthritis is after all more common in the elderly due to ageing. There are also no benefits to cracking your fingers. Instead, the cons outweigh the pros by a large extent. Try to cut down this bad habit of yours today!

Symptoms of Arthritis

The signs and symptoms of arthritis are misleading. They are similar to normal injuries and people tend to ignore them, thinking that it will go away on its own after some time. However, it is important to identify the symptoms early and start treatment fast. Once arthritis gets serious, it can cause a severe impact on how you lead your life. Stiffness accompanied with swelling and pains in the joints are onset symptoms of arthritis. This is especially amplified after long durations of inactivity such as waking up in the morning. What are other symptoms of arthritis? Let’s talk about them below.

Joint Pain

Arthritis causes abnormal amounts of water and fluid to build up, causing swelling of joints. The excess fluids will interrupt the balance in the soft tissues, causing the immune system to attack it and cause pain and tenderness.

Inflammation

The immune system of a patient suffering from arthritis is in a confused state and it will mistakenly attack the healthy tissues, causing chronic pain and inflammation. Not only will the tissue alone be affected, the surrounding healthy tissues will all fall prey to attacks as well.

Stiffness

Stiffness occurs due to a 3 part process that happens during arthritis. Firstly, the joint lining gets inflamed due to the reasons mentioned above. This will cause the joints to have limited ability to function properly. Secondly, growth of cells and cell division causes the Synovial membrane to thicken. The inflamed cells will also secrete enzymes that aids in the digestion of bones and soft tissues such as the cartilage.

Loss in range of motion

Arthritis suffers will lose their full range of motion. The ability to move and fully utilise a joint is severely depleted. Therefore, exercises that help to regain range of motion should be performed frequently.

Numbness

Numbness indicates the involvement of nerves and this can lead to more serious implications. Some patients who experience numbness do not know that they are suffering from arthritis. In serious cases, even turning the head can cause severe pain and amplify the symptoms. Nerve irritation will cause the body to become weak and in-depth diagnostic is required.

Identifying the symptoms of arthritis early can help to prevent joint damage and treatment can be administered quicker. Arthritis can be passed down from generations so if your family has a history of arthritis, you will need to perform health checks regularly.

Why Does Cold Weather Causes Pain in Our Joints?

Do you have an elder at home who seems to be very accurate with her prediction on when the rain will come? They always tell you that once they experience pain in the joint, it will rain soon after. Medically wise, it is still an unsolved mystery about the exact relation between painful joints with cold weather. For a long time, cold and rainy weather has been linked to joint problems and arthritis and these affect areas such as the elbow, wrist, shoulders and knees.

Most people with arthritis or joint problems will suffer pain when the weather changes for the worse. It is largely due to the change in atmospheric pressure. Located in our joints are a lot of sensory nerves which are extremely sensitive to any changes to pressure. Cold weather will cause the linings at the joints to constrict, causing pain and discomfort to patients. Cold weather also restricts the circulation blood flow through the body. As a result, it can cause further inflammation in the joints. Another simple explanation is that during cold and wet weather conditions, movements are severely limited. Most of us will not feel like moving around and want to simply waste our time at home. This lack of movement can cause our body to stiffen up and cause pain in the joints. The natural body mechanism also contributes to joint pain during cold weather. The natural defence mechanism of our body is to divert all the blood from the rest of our body to protect the core of it at the centre of the body. As such, it will divert away and restrict flow to blood to places further from the heart such as the fingers and legs. Due to a reduced blood blow to these extremities, it can cause a lot of problems for people especially those suffering from arthritis.

There is however no strong evidence between cold weather and joint pain although people do experience an increase in joint pain during cold weather. You can try to deal with it with some simple methods. Try to always keep your body covered in thick and warm clothes whenever the weather changes. This will help to proper the flow of blood through your body and reduce joint inflammation. A cup of hot tea or coffee can always help to bring warmth to the rest of your body, relieving some of the symptoms.

 

Unravel the Mystery of Shoulder Pain

The function of the shoulder joint is to provide mobility to the shoulder and it is one of the parts of the body which is heavily used every single day. Many people suffer from shoulder pain. Many different reasons can result in shoulder pain and it is important to know the exact orthopaedic reason and only then can the correct diagnosis and treatment be made. Shoulder pain can suddenly happen and many people are unsure of it. Let’s try to unravel the mystery of shoulder pain today.

Bursitis

Since the shoulder joint is heavily used, there are a lot of rubbing actions throughout the day. There are small fluid filled sacs called bursae to cushion the bones and the soft tissues. These will help to reduce friction and increase gliding motions. However, due to excessive repetitive usage of the shoulder joints, inflammation can happen on the bursae, leading to pain and swelling known as bursitis. This can cause difficulty in performing simple actions such as lifting of the hand or wearing of clothes.

Impingement

Impingement of the shoulder happens when the shoulder blade exerts too much pressure onto the surrounding soft tissues such as the bursa or the tendons, causing bursitis. Over a period of time, shoulder impingement can possible result in a rotator cuff tear.

Shoulder instability

Shoulder instability can be due to overuse of the shoulder joint or due to an injury which causes the arm bone to be loose and slip out of the socket joint. The shoulder joint acts as a ball and socket model where mobility can be easily obtained without much limitation. However when the ball and socket is loose, it can cause subluxation. The surrounding ligaments and tendons are weakened and they are unable to fully support the motions, causing pain and instability.

Tendon tears

Tearing of the tendons could possibly occur due to ageing or injuries, overuse or wear and tear. Depending on the severity of the tear, it can be a partial one or a complete one. A complete tendon tear will result in tremendous pain and loss of stability.

Arthritis

Arthritis is a common cause of shoulder pain and the most common form is osteoarthritis or wear and tear. Arthritis usually occurs during mid-age around 30 years old and over time, it will become worse. Osteoarthritis can also happen at a young age due to injuries or overuse and it will result in rotator cuff tendon tears or inflammation. Arthritis will cause simple daily motions to be almost impossible and you will often experience stiffness of the joints.

There are many reasons that can cause shoulder pain. I hope that the above article had help to unravel some of the mysteries and after you know the exact reason, you will be able to use the correct treatment method.

Top 6 Most Frequent Occurring Orthopaedic Conditions

Many conditions affect our musculoskeletal system and they require the professional treatment and care from orthopaedic doctors. There are some orthopaedic conditions which are much more common than the others.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury

The main function of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is to reduce movement of the femur on the tibia. If there are excess movement on the tibia, it can cause injuries to the surrounding muscles and ligaments. ACL injuries occur most commonly in high impact sports such as soccer, rugby and basketball where there is a sudden impact on the knee, causing the ACL to rupture or a sudden change of direction, when the foot is still firmly implanted on the ground and the knee attempts to change direction. A tear in the ACL can cause the knee to lose its stability and feel like it is unable to support the body’s weight.

Bursitis

The function of the bursa is to act as a cushion and reduce friction between body tissues. Bursitis occurs when the bursa is inflamed. Bursa is located near the joints such as the knees and elbows. The main causes of bursitis are due to overuse, injuries or infection. Patients who are suffering from bursitis will experience stiffness of joints, pain and swelling.

Meniscus injuries

The meniscus is located on the tibia and its function is to absorb shocks that the knee is experiencing and cushion them. Injuries to the meniscus can occur when there is a sudden twisting motion of the knee or due to wear and tear. Meniscus injuries are often accompanied by other knee ligament injuries such as an ACL tear.

Arthritis

Arthritis is the inflammation of a joint and it can be due to many reasons such as ageing, injuries, overuse or infection. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage is slowly being destroyed and it is a chronic disease.

Fractures

Fractures happen when there is a crack in the bone and can be grouped under open or closed fractures. Our bones are high in compressive strength but poor in tensile or shear strength. As such, when there is a twisting motion such as a fall or abrupt change in motion, our bones can easily crack.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis occurs when there is a loss in bone mass and the bone tissues will slowly be destroyed. Osteoporosis will cause the bones to be weak and prone to fracture. This is usually due to ageing or lack of calcium intake. Areas of high stresses are commonly affected such as the hips and spine.

Above are some of the common orthopaedic conditions that are suffered by many people. Orthopaedic conditions have a huge impact on our lives and thus we must do our best to protect our body from any harm.