What causes pain from arthritis?

Arthritis is an umbrella term for more than 100 different diseases and related conditions. It’s quite common, and the chronic pain can be debilitating for some patients. Although conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis aren’t curable, they can be effectively managed with help from the orthopedic specialists at West Hills Hospital—a renowned spine hospital.

How osteoarthritis causes pain
Your joints have a protective cushion of cartilage that prevents the ends of the two bones from rubbing together when you move. But if you have osteoarthritis, often called wear and tear arthritis, this cartilage starts to break down. Eventually, the cartilage may be so damaged and worn away that the bones do start to rub together.

The loss of the protective cartilage can cause considerable pain. People with osteoarthritis feel more pain during activity and less while at rest. Osteoarthritis most often affects these joints :

  • Knees
  • Hips
  • Hands

How rheumatoid arthritis causes pain
Rheumatoid arthritis is quite different from osteoarthritis. It’s an autoimmune disease, in which the body’s own immune system is tricked into attacking healthy tissue. The joint pain of RA occurs when the immune system attacks the synovial membrane, which is the lining of the joints.

The attack of the synovial membrane causes painful swelling. Over time, RA can result in joint deformity and bone erosion.

In many cases, RA can also cause the immune system to attack other areas of the body, including the lungs, heart, salivary glands and eyes. When this occurs, the symptoms aren’t strictly localized to the affected joints.

How gout causes pain
Gout causes acute episodes of intense pain. Usually, it affects the base of the big toe. The pain and inflammation of gout occur when urate crystals build up in the affected joint.

Urate crystals are formed from uric acid, which in turn is produced by the metabolism of purines. Purines are a substance found naturally in the body. They’re also present in many foods, like seafood and steak.

If the body has trouble getting rid of excessive amounts of purines, uric acid levels can increase, potentially causing urate crystals to accumulate. These crystals are sharp, and can cause inflammation, swelling and pain when they settle into tissues.

The Total Joint Team at West Hills Hospital is on a mission to help each of our patients live life well despite their arthritis. Our highly trained team includes board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons, who can guide you in making an informed decision for your healthcare. Residents in the West Hills area can get in touch with a registered nurse by calling (818) 676-4321.

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