Joint pain and arthritis


Joint pain

This is pain in one or more of the body’s joints, such as the knee, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, hip, ankle and foot.

It can easily occur when the joint capsule or the ligaments are subject to excessive traction. In this case, the structure of the joint cartilage can alter, therefore limiting its ability to withstand loads and shear stress. For example, a pain in the knee after a strain or after sports could be caused by a traumatic injury to the meniscal fibrocartilage or by kneecap instability.

Joint pain, along with factors such as family history, unhealthy lifestyle and older age, could be a symptom of arthritis, a chronic degenerative and disabling disease that has a major impact on the patient’s quality of life, functioning and social life, as well as on healthcare systems

Osteoarthritis (OA)

Risk factors for osteoarthritis

It is well known that the risk of developing arthritis increases with age, although significant differences have been observed between arthritis and cartilage aging. Causes can be linked either to genetic factors (non-modifiable) or to lifestyle habits (modifiable).

Possible symptoms

From a clinical standpoint, osteoarthritis is polymorphic and may be associated with several signs and symptoms.

Understanding different types of joint pain and osteoarthritis

There can be two types of joint pain: mechanical stimuli, originating from mechanical changes in the environment of the joint (eg, through direct trauma), and chemical stimuli caused by inflammation.
Whatever the cause, there may be an impaired use of the muscles and tendons, resulting in a specific disorder.

Joint pain, along with other factors, could be a symptom of osteoarthritis. The Italian Society of Rheumatology (SIR, 1999) has classified two forms of the disease:
primary and secondary osteoarthritis, depending on whether or not there is an identifiable underlying cause.
The areas most affected are: lumbar spine (33%), cervical spine (30%), knee (27%), and hip (25%).

Joint pain

Understanding different types of joint pain and osteoarthritis

Preventing pain and the onset of the disease

Although considerable progress has been made in understanding the pathogenetic mechanisms of osteoarthritis (OA), as yet there is no definitive cure for this disease.

Osteoarthritis is the result of the combination of several risk factors that can cause cartilage damage. Assessing the risk factors – in particular genetic factors, which have been shown to increase the likelihood of developing the disease – is a key element of prevention.
As time passes, we are increasingly exposed to risk factors, and this leads to the onset of joint disorders.

Prevention of osteoarthritis and joint pain takes place on 2 levels.