This Is How Arthritis Affects Your Joints

Published On: November 29th, 2019

An estimated 54 million adults are living with arthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most common type of the disease, affects over 30 million Americans. Arthritis isn’t limited to adults, however. Nearly 300,000 children have arthritis.

Whether you’re newly diagnosed or learning better ways to manage the condition for yourself or someone you know, it’s wise to increase your awareness and understanding of arthritis.

At Wisconsin Bone & Joint our top-quality team of orthopedic doctors provides individualized care for a wide range of orthopedic conditions, and we routinely help patients with arthritis to manage their symptoms, live well and lead a good quality of life. Here’s what we want you to know about how arthritis affects your joints.

Joint disease

Among the different types of arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most common, mainly affecting adults from middle age through senior years. Osteoarthritis is a joint disease that involves deterioration of the entire joint, including cartilage, joint lining, ligaments, and bone. As a “wear and tear” condition, osteoarthritis is much more common in older adults.

However, we want you to know that it isn’t as simple as the joint wearing out. It helps to become familiar with joint anatomy. Your joints allow your bones to move, giving you flexibility. The joints are the areas where two bones come together, and your joints consist of:

  • Cartilage: Tissue that covers the surface of bones
  • Ligaments: Tough elastic bands that support joint movement
  • Tendons: Tissue on each side of the joint that connects muscle to bone

In addition to cartilage, ligaments, and tendons, fluid and fluid-filled sacs play a key role in keeping your joints lubricated so your bones move smoothly. The synovial membrane lines the joint and produces a sticky fluid. Also present are bursae, fluid-filled sacs between your bones, ligaments, and other joint structures that provide cushion and prevent friction.

Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of the crucial structures of your joint. This can happen suddenly due to damaged sustained from an injury. More often, it happens gradually over time, which is why the risk increases as you get older.

How does osteoarthritis affect the joints?

Osteoarthritis tends to affect the joints in the hands, spine, knees and hips. Because the structures that prevent friction have deteriorated, the joints stiffen and become inflamed and painful.

People with osteoarthritis experience pain and inflammation that ranges in severity when they move. We often see patients who have traded an active lifestyle for more leisurely activities as a result of osteoarthritis. The pain may cause you to limit or quit activities you enjoy, like golf, hiking, and tennis.

Arthritis doesn’t get better on its own

It’s crucial to know that arthritis doesn’t heal on its own. It’s a progressive condition that gradually gets worse instead. The pain, swelling and stiffness you have now will likely worsen if left untreated. Appropriate treatment can help manage your symptoms, slow disease progression, and boost your quality of life.

How is arthritis treated?

There’s no proven treatment that can reverse joint damage from arthritis. Available treatments are aimed at reducing pain and improving the function of affected joints.

When you visit Wisconsin Bone & Joint for arthritis treatment, we find the right combination of treatments for highly individualized care. Managing arthritis may include a combination of medication, injections,  physical therapy, and lifestyle changes.

Surgery is sometimes necessary when deterioration or joint damage is too great, and symptoms significantly impair your quality of life. Joint replacement involves removing the damaged parts of the joint and replacing them with artificial parts.

Knee replacement is one of the most common arthritis-related surgeries we perform at Wisconsin Bone & Joint.

It’s time to see an orthopedic specialist when you no longer move like you used to and find it painful just trying to do everyday tasks like climbing stairs and walking the dog. Treatment can ease arthritis pain and help you move more freely.

If you’re struggling to deal with the pain and limitations of arthritis, stop in to see us at Wisconsin Bone & Joint. We have convenient locations in Wauwatosa, Glendale and Cedarburg.