Osteoarthritis (OA) is sometimes called a degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” disease, because it is associated with increasing age and the degeneration of the protective cartilage in the joints. In osteoarthritis, the slick surface of the cartilage becomes rough. Eventually, if the cartilage wears down completely, you may be left with bone rubbing on bone.It most commonly affect the joint of the hips, hands, knees and spine.
Osteoarthritis has no specific cause, and may include:
- Endocrine: People with diabetes may be prone to osteoarthritis. Other endocrine problems also may promote osteoarthritis development, including acromegaly, hypothyroidism, hyperparathyroidism, and obesity.
- Post traumatic: Traumatic causes can be further divided into macrotrauma or microtrauma. An example of macrotrauma is an injury to the joint such as a bone break, causing the bones to line up improperly (malalignment), lose stability, or damage cartilage. Microtrauma may occur over time (chronically). An example of this would be repetitive movements or the overuse noted in several occupations.
- Inflammatory joint diseases: This category would include infected joints, chronic gout, and rheumatoid disease.
- Metabolic: Diseases causing errors of metabolism may cause osteoarthritis. Examples include Paget’s disease and Wilson disease.
- Congenital or developmental: Abnormal anatomy such as unequal leg length may be a cause of osteoarthritis.
- Genetic: A genetic defect may promote breakdown of the protective architecture of cartilage. Examples include collagen disturbances such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
- Neuropathic: Diseases such as diabetes can cause nerve problems. The loss of sensation may affect how the body knows the position and condition of the joints or limbs. In other words, the body can’t tell when it is injured.
- Other: Nutritional problems may cause osteoarthritis. Other diseases such as hemophilia and sickle cell are further examples.