Why Did I Develop Arthritis in My Shoulder, Elbow, Knee or Hip?
Ask Dr. Brandt...
Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon
Q: Why did I develop arthritis in my shoulder, elbow, knee or hip?
A: The simple answer is we don’t know. Although an injury years ago can lead to the development of arthritis, in the majority of cases the answer is unclear. There may be some connection to your ancestors or possibly some relationship to the work you’ve done, but individuals who have spent their career at a desk are as prone to develop arthritis as a construction worker.
There are two types of arthritis, Inflammatory arthritis and Osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid, psoriatic, and gouty arthritis fit into the category of inflammatory arthritis and are not the topic of this article. The arthritis that most of us develop is the more common osteoarthritis or “wear and tear” arthritis. Almost half of us will develop osteoarthritis in our knee in our lifetime. Our joints are made of bones covered by cartilage on each side of the joint.
Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of that cartilage in the affected joint. Imagine a 1⁄4 inch thick surface of cartilage that is smooth and with the fluid that the body makes to lubricate the joint, the surface becomes more slippery than black ice. When that surface contacts the surface of the bone on the opposite side of the joint, there is very little friction when the joint moves.
Now imagine that for some reason the cartilage surface starts to break down, a process that’s similar to the potholes that develop in our streets. Now there’s friction when the rough surfaces are moving against each other. Your joint may then create more fluid for lubrication; the swelling of an arthritic joint. You may feel grinding, catching, or locking, and you will most probably feel stiffness and pain.
Orthopedic surgeons can offer many treatment options to address osteoarthritis including non-surgical and surgical options. Ask your orthopedic surgeon what options are best for you.
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Roland J Brandt, DO
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Straith Hospital for Special Surgery
23901 Lahser Rd. Southfield, MI 48033