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How Does Arthritis Affect The Skeletal System

Drug Abuse And The Spine

What is arthritis? | Muscular-skeletal diseases | NCLEX-RN | Khan Academy

Individuals who use central nervous system depressant drugs like opiates or alcohol may develop very poor posture. In addition, central nervous system stimulant abusers may develop postural habits that make maintaining a relaxed posture very difficult.

Over time, the effects of drug use on a persons posture can affect the spinal cord . When drug abuse, poor postural habits, and nutritional issues that reduce calcium absorption are combined, effects are compounded. This may result in significant issues with the spine, including the development of arthritis or other types of spinal damage.

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How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Treated

Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:

  • How old you are
  • How well you handle certain medicines, treatments, or therapies
  • If your condition is expected to get worse
  • Your opinion or preference

There is no cure for RA. The goal of treatment is often to limit pain and inflammation, and help ensure function. You may have 1 or more types of treatments. Treatment may include:

  • Medicines. Some medicines may be used for pain relief. Some are used to treat inflammation. Others can help to slow the disease from getting worse. Medicines should be managed by a rheumatologist. This is a doctor who specializes in arthritis and rheumatic diseases. You may need regular blood tests to check how the medicines affect your blood cells, liver, and kidneys.
  • Splints. Splints may be used to help protect the joints and strengthen weak joints.
  • Physical therapy. Physical therapy may be used to help increase the strength and movement of the affected areas.

In some cases, surgery may be an option if other treatments dont work. Surgery does not cure RA. It helps correct the deformities caused by the disease. After surgery, RA can still cause problems. You may even need more surgery. Joint repair or reconstruction can be done in many ways, including:

What Are The Parts Of A Joint

Joints get cushioned and supported by soft tissues that prevent your bones from rubbing against each other. A connective tissue called articular cartilage plays a key role. It helps your joints move smoothly without friction or pain.

Some joints have a synovial membrane, a padded pocket of fluid that lubricates the joints. Many joints, such as your knees, get supported by tendons and ligaments. Tendons connect muscles to your bones, while ligaments connect bones to other bones.

Read Also: Can You Get Tested For Rheumatoid Arthritis

How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosed

Diagnosing RA may be difficult in the early stages. This is because symptoms may be very mild, and signs of the disease may not be seen on X-rays or in blood tests. Your healthcare provider will take your medical history and give you a physical exam. Tests may also be done, such as:

  • X-ray. This test uses a small amount of radiation to create images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
  • Joint aspiration. For this test, a small fluid sample is taken from a swollen joint. It is done to look for signs of infection or gout.
  • Nodule biopsy. Tiny tissue samples are taken to look at under a microscope. This helps to check for cancer or other abnormal cells.
  • Blood tests. These tests are done to find certain antibodies, called rheumatoid factor, cyclic citrullinated antibody, and other signs of RA.
  • Ultrasound or MRI. These imaging tests can look for bone damage and inflammation.

Your Arthritis Healthcare Team

Joint problems osteoarthritis, healthy joint and damaged joint ...

A range of health professionals are able to help you manage your arthritis, including:

  • general practitioner your GP is central to your care and will help you manage day-to-day, as well as helping you access other health professionals and services
  • rheumatologist a doctor who specialises in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal conditions
  • physiotherapist will use physical means, including exercise, to help keep your body moving and functioning as well as possible
  • dietitian will provide information and advice on food and nutrition
  • occupational therapist can help you learn better ways to do everyday activities such as bathing, dressing, cooking, working, eating or driving
  • exercise physiologist will help to improve your health and fitness through exercise programs tailored to your specific situation
  • podiatrist will assess, diagnose and treat any foot and lower limb problems you may have
  • pharmacist can help you with information and advice about medications both prescription and over-the-counter
  • psychologist can help you to work through your feelings, particularly if you are feeling anxious or depressed.

Also Check: What Tests Diagnose Rheumatoid Arthritis

Ra And The Musculoskeletal System

The primary way this disease affects your body is through whats known as the musculoskeletal system. This is basically what it sounds like: a system of muscles and skeletal structures like bones that give your body support and stability so that you can actually move. When rheumatoid arthritis attacks your musculoskeletal system, it makes it harder for you to perform even the most basic physical activities. The disease affects each part of the system in slightly different ways. Lets take a closer look.

How Is Arthritis Treated

Theres no cure for arthritis, but there are treatments that can help you manage the condition. Your treatment plan will depend on the severity of the arthritis, its symptoms and your overall health.

Conservative treatments include:

  • Medication: Anti-inflammatory and pain medications may help relieve your arthritis symptoms. Some medications, called biologics, target your immune systems inflammatory response. A healthcare provider may recommend biologics for your rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis.
  • Physical therapy: Rehabilitation can help improve strength, range of motion and overall mobility. Therapists can teach you how to adjust your daily activities to lessen arthritic pain.
  • Therapeutic injections: Cortisone shots may help temporarily relieve pain and inflammation in your joints. Arthritis in certain joints, such as your knee, may improve with a treatment called viscosupplementation. It injects lubricant to help joints move smoothly.

Also Check: What Is The Best Arthritis Medicine Over The Counter

What Is Arthritis In The Hands Caused By

Injuries: Even when properly treated, an injured joint is more likely to develop OA over time. Fractures and dislocations are among the most common injuries that lead to arthritis. Joint issues: Joint infections, overuse, loose ligaments, and poorly aligned joints can also lead to hand or wrist arthritis.

What is the most common arthritis in your hands?

Osteoarthritis, also known as wear and tear or degenerative arthritis, is the most common type of arthritis. It causes the cartilage to break down and wear away.

What is hand degenerative arthritis?

Hand osteoarthritis is inflammation that causes pain and stiffness in your joints. It usually happens in three places: The base of your thumb, where it meets your wrist. One of the joints closest to your fingertips. The middle joint of a finger.

How Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect The Joints

Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis & Age | Skeletal System 08 | Anatomy & Physiology

The process by which RA damages joints is much different than osteoarthritis. Primarily, RA affects the synovial membrane and causes an overproduction of the synovial fluid that is used to lubricate joints. This increased fluid leads to joint swelling and, thereby, eventually causes cartilage damage. Additionally, unlike osteoarthritis which may affect only one side of the body, RA typically occurs symmetrically, affecting the same joint on both sides of the body.

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What Are The Types Of Arthritis

The term arthritis refers to over 100 conditions which can impact the joints. However, the most commonly observed forms of arthritis can be narrowed down to two:

  • Osteoarthritis The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative or wear and tear arthritis. This form of the disease occurs over time, as the joint gradually begins to break down due to age or injury. It most commonly affects the knees, hands, and hips.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis RA is an autoimmune disease in which the bodys own immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells of the joints. This leads to painful inflammation in the tissue that lines joints and is most commonly observed in the knees, hands, and wrists.

Joint Affected By Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Often associated with ageing, the exact cause of osteoarthritis is not known. However, factors that are known to increase your risk of OA include a family history of osteoarthritis, excessive wear on joints, and injury.

You may have several joints affected by OA, just a few or only one osteoarthritic joint.

Read Also: How To Treat Arthritis In Your Hip

What Happens To Joints In Osteoarthritis

When you have osteoarthritis, it affects the entire joint, including the bones, cartilage, joint capsule, synovial membrane, synovial fluid, tendons, ligaments and muscles.

Osteoarthritis involves the breakdown of the protective cushion of cartilage surrounding the ends of the bones where 2 bones meet to form a joint. A healthy synovial joint has a lining of smooth cartilage and is lubricated by synovial fluid.

In osteoarthritis, the cartilage becomes flaky and rough and small pieces break off to form loose bodies in the synovial fluid. This causes irritation and inflammation of the synovial membrane. The loss of cartilage leaves bones unprotected and vulnerable to damage.

As the roughened cartilage becomes thinner, the bone underneath thickens and swells. The smooth functioning of the joint is lost and the bone can lose shape and bony spurs may form on the bone end. Microfractures may also occur in the ends of the bones.

The joint capsule and ligaments stretch, and may thicken slowly to try to stabilise the joint as it changes shape. The tissue around the joint can also become inflamed. OA can also result in deterioration and weakness of the tendons, ligaments and muscles around the joint.

Diagnosis Of Chronic Gouty Arthritis

Arthritis Symptoms and Treatment

Chronic gouty arthritis should be considered in patients with persistent unexplained joint disease or subcutaneous or bony tophi. Plain x-rays of the 1st metatarsophalangeal joint or other affected joint may be useful. These x-rays may show punched-out lesions of subchondral bone with overhanging bony margins, most commonly in the 1st metatarsophalangeal joint lesions must be ⥠5 mm in diameter to be visible on x-ray. Joint space is typically preserved until very late in the course of disease. Synovial fluid findings from chronic effusions of affected joints are usually diagnostic.

Diagnostic ultrasonography is increasingly used to detect a typical double-contour sign suggesting urate crystal deposition, but sensitivity is operator-dependent and differentiation from calcium pyrophosphate crystal deposits may be more difficult to do conclusively.

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Other Types Of Joint Disease

Sometimes osteoarthritis is a result of damage from a different kind of joint disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.

Two factors that may affect the symptoms of osteoarthritis, but arent a direct cause of it are the weather and diet:


Many people with osteoarthritis find that changes in the weather make the pain worse, especially when the atmospheric pressure is falling for example, just before it rains. Although the weather may affect the symptoms of your arthritis, it doesnt cause it.


Some people find that certain foods seem to increase or lessen their pain and other symptoms. However, your weight is more likely than any other specific dietary factors to affect your risk of developing osteoarthritis.

Read more about osteoarthritis of the spine.

Arthritis: How Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect Joints

Arthritis joint inflammation is very common, and typically causes pain and stiffness in the affected joints.

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are 2 of the most common types of arthritis and they affect the joints differently. View the 3 diagrams of joints below to see the differences between:

  • a normal, healthy joint
  • a joint affected by osteoarthritis and
  • a joint with rheumatoid arthritis.

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This Autoimmune Disease Can Take Its Toll In Many Ways Heres What To Keep An Eye Out For

by Health Writer

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that triggers chronic inflammation. Its primary target: the lining of your joints, particularly those in your hands and wrists. Pain, swelling, and stiffness in those joints are the most notable symptoms of this condition. Generally, we see RA on both sides of the body, so both hands and both wrists, says Ozlem Pala, M.D., a rheumatologist at the University of Miami Health System.

can involve other joints, and the disease also can cause fatigue, weakness, and weight loss. Theres no cure, but it can be managed with treatment. To do that successfully, it helps to first identify which systems of your body are being affected by RA.

Effects On The Immune System

Infectious arthritis | Muscular-skeletal diseases | NCLEX-RN | Khan Academy

PsA is an autoimmune condition, which means that it influences the way that the immune system works. The immune system fights pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses. In someone with an autoimmune condition, it mistakenly attacks healthy cells.

In a person with PsA, the immune system attacks the joints, tendons, and the insertion points of tendons and ligaments. If a person also has psoriasis, it also affects the skin.

Researchers do not fully understand why this happens. They think that some bacterial infections, including strep throat, may trigger PsA. In addition, if a person has a genetic susceptibility, they may develop PsA as a result of severe stress, a physical injury, or an event that causes the immune system to react strongly.

720% of people with psoriasis develop uveitis, and it is more common in people who have PsA than in those who have psoriasis alone.

Uveitis is a group of diseases related to eye inflammation. Without treatment, it can lead to vision loss. People with PsA should have regular eye exams for this reason.

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Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis

There is no cure for RA. But it is important to help keep your joints working well by reducing pain and inflammation. Work on a treatment plan with your healthcare provider that includes medicine and physical therapy. Work on lifestyle changes that can improve your quality of life. Lifestyle changes include:

  • Activity and rest. To reduce stress on your joints, switch between activity and rest. This can help protect your joints and lessen your symptoms.
  • Using assistive devices. Canes, crutches, and walkers can help to keep stress off certain joints and to improve balance.
  • Using adaptive equipment. Reachers and grabbers let you extend your reach and reduce straining. Dressing aids help you get dressed more easily.
  • Managing the use of medicines. Medicines for this condition have some risks. Work with your healthcare provider to create a plan to reduce this risk.
  • Seeking support. Find a support group that can help you deal with the effects of RA.

How To Protect Your Bones From Osteoporosis

Many of the recommendations for inflammatory arthritis patients about protecting their bones and preventing osteoporosis are the same as the advice given to the general population. A few things are specific to the disease. Here are steps arthritis patients can take to minimize risk and keep bones strong:

Also Check: How To Avoid Arthritis Naturally

Watch Our Video About What Osteoarthritis Is

Osteoarthritis is a very common condition which can affect any joint in the body. Its most likely to affect the joints that bear most of our weight, such as the knees and feet. Joints that we use a lot in everyday life, such as the joints of the hand, are also commonly affected.

In a healthy joint, a coating of tough but smooth and slippery tissue, called cartilage, covers the surface of the bones and helps the bones to move freely against each other. When a joint develops osteoarthritis, part of the cartilage thins and the surface becomes rougher. This means the joint doesnt move as smoothly as it should.

When cartilage becomes worn or damaged, all the tissues within the joint become more active than normal as the body tries to repair the damage. The repair processes may change the structure of the joint, but will often allow the joint to work normally and without any pain and stiffness. Almost all of us will develop osteoarthritis in some of our joints as we get older, though we may not even be aware of it.

However, the repair processes dont always work so well and changes to the joint structure can sometimes cause or contribute to symptoms such as pain, swelling or difficulty in moving the joint normally.

For example:

For most joints, osteoarthritis is more common and more severe in women.

How Ra Medication Affects Osteoporosis Risk

Cartilage Illustrations, Royalty

Corticosteroids: These potent anti-inflammatories can bring down a flare quickly, but they also come with a host of side effects osteoporosis among them. Taking prednisone is a strong risk factor, says Dr. Wysham. This drug, a corticosteroid, can weaken bones and suppress new bone formation or bone repair.

Proton-Pump Inhibitors: Proton pump inhibitor drugs that some patients take to protect their stomach from side effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can interfere with calcium absorption, which is important for bone strength.

Opioids: Less well understood is the link between other drugs sometimes used to treat arthritis and the bone-thinning condition. Opiates, for example, dont have a direct causal link, says Dr. Wysham. But people on chronic opiates, especially higher doses, can have decreased levels of testosterone or estrogen, and those two hormones are important for bones.

Disease-modifying drugs: When it comes to disease-modifying drugs both conventional ones like methotrexate and biologics such as TNF inhibitors the research gets even more complicated. Since the advent and growth of biologics over the past two decades, researchers have been looking at how all of these drugs can affect bone mineral density, for better or worse.

Many factors complicate the issue of whether and which DMARDs can have a protective effect on bone mineral density, such as the age of patients , other osteoporosis risk factors, and history of steroid use.

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