When you woke up this morning, did you experience pain in one of your joints? Perhaps you did and cringed. It is a common experience since almost everyone goes through joint pain at some point in their life. It may range from mild to excruciating and could be symptomatic of anything from general strain to disease. For something as commonly occurring, it is alarming how little we know let alone understand, of our joints and the pain we undergo.
Understanding human joints
The anatomy of joints is a complex one. Our body has more than a hundred joints of different types. Typically, a moveable (or synovial) joint connects two or more bones and consists of two bone ends cushioned by cartilages. They are enclosed by a fluid filled capsule which is lined by the synovial membrane. This membrane produces a fluid to provide nourishment to and reduce friction in the joints. Ligaments and tendons attach the bones to each other and provide stability and movement. Injury, damage, deformity or disease to any of these constituents of the joint can lead to joint pain.
Arthritis is a commonly known joint pain related condition. A literal translation of the word ‘arthritis’ [arthros + Itis], is joint inflammation. General arthritis symptoms include discomfort, pain, stiffness and fatigue. Medical research has revealed many lines of treatment to cure arthritis. Though it mostly affects the old, it occurs in people of all ages. There are several arthritis types and subtypes.
A vast majority of people are found suffering from osteoarthritis, also known as wear-and-tear-arthritis. It occurs due to the degeneration of the cartilages between the bones, as a result of wear and tear. The degeneration may alter the joint alignment causing tension in the surrounding muscles. Osteoarthritis also exposes bone ends, leading to reduced motion and intensive pain.
What is cartilage?
Cartilages are supple connective tissues present in many areas in our body including joints between bones. They are made of chondrocytes that produce high amounts of extra cellular matrix. Due to absence of blood vessels in it, cartilage growth and healing takes a long time.
Another main arthritis type is rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease causing inflammation of the joint lining (synovium). The immune system attacks its own body tissues causing joint pain, stiffness, swelling and redness. An individual suffering from RA often undergoes active spells of chronic joint inflammation and pain. What causes rheumatoid arthritis is not clearly known and is a subject of ongoing research, though genetics and/or infection are believed to contribute to the development of this condition.
Managing arthritic pain can be difficult and confusing, especially when there is lack of awareness regarding its nature and causes. Often victims of joint pain resort to over the counter topical or other pain medication. Soon they end up in a pain avoidance cycle, while the joints continue to suffer. Instead, with the right arthritis treatment approach and medication, it is possible to manage pain effectively. Some arthritis natural remedies also help in coping with pain and healing. Watch this space to learn more on effective solutions to cure arthritis.