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Arthrosis - Symptoms, Treatment and Causes

Updated on December 6, 2013

What does Arthrosis mean?

Arthrosis is a degenerative disease of the joint that involves the cartilage. It is the most common disease of the joints that affect millions of people. Arthrosis is also another term for osteoarthritis. It is a form of arthritis that involves a breakdown in the joint cartilage and its eventual loss.

Arthrosis or osteoarthritis is a group of disease that resulted from a variety of disorders that can cause damage to structural or functional of one or multiple joints. It is the most common source of joint pain affecting millions of people all over the world.

The joint is the articulation of two or more bones that allows movement of any part of the body except for the bone in the thyroid known as the hyoid bone. The joint is also classified according to the quantity of movement it can allow. Immovable is the type of joint that connects two or more bones lock together that does not allow movement. Slightly movable joint type holds together two or more joints that allow a limited movement such as the vertebra of the spine. Freely movable joint type is mostly found in all parts of the body that allows a free movement of the joints.

Joint cartilage is also involved in Arthrosis characterized by a progressive loss of the cartilage. Joint cartilage is a gel-like and porous layer of tissue that act as shock absorbers for bearing weight and permits movement. The joint and its cartilage is nourished and lubricated by synovium which is a membrane surrounding the tissue of the joint.

Arthrosis has been regarded as among the most common articular disease with varying estimations in different populations all over the world. The incidence of arthrosis is prevalent in older adults and is more common in women than in men. It is also found that osteoarthritis or an arthrosis is prevalent among older adults of American natives as compared to the general population.


Arthrosis is not a systemic illness that can affect different organs of the body. The onset of the disease however can be debilitating to some and can affect their quality of life and daily activities.

Pain is the most common symptom of arthritis that is concentrated only at the affected site. The degree of symptoms varies from one person to another and usually does not involve any other areas of the body. The pain occurs after repetitive use of the joint affected and is usually worse at the end of the day.

Joint swelling and warmth may also be noted over the affected site with pain and stiffness that occur after long periods of idleness. Pain even at rest associated with limited movements is also noted in severe cases of arthrosis that resulted from bone friction with the complete breakdown of joint cartilage.

Varying symptoms of the disease according to the specific joint affected may include the following:

Hands and fingers arthrosis is commonly seen with enlargement of the bone on the fingertips. The pain can suddenly occur and is usually painful while the fingertips may be noted with swelling and redness.

Hip involvement is often noted with limping to compensate for the pain and limited movement brought on the major weight-bearing joints.

Knee involvement can result to a deformity characterized by an outward curve. Limping is also noted which worsen as more cartilage is broken down.

Spine arthrosis can cause pain in the lower back and the neck. The spine involvement can also lead to the development of bone spurs that can crowd the nerves resulting in pain and weakness of either the arms or the legs.


Various reasons can cause the onset of arthrosis although the cause it divided into two categories according to the source of the disease which include the following:

Primary causes are those that do not result from any disease or injury but more on the heredity and other predisposing factors. Arthrosis can arise based on genetic factor where prevalence among siblings is greater. Obesity is greatly linked for weight-bearing joints resulting from pressure and loads subjected towards the joints. The aging process is also involved in arthrosis implicating the ability of the bone tissues to regenerate including the loss of elasticity and density of the bone that is associated with the advancement in age of an individual. Repetitive use of the joints over the years plus the advance in age potentially put one at high risk for arthrosis.

Secondary causes of arthrosis are those that arise from different factors that can directly affect the joints. Arthrosis in secondary cause is thus influenced by injury and other disorders and diseases that can contribute to the normal wear and tear of the cartilage. Diseases and disorders of the endocrine such as diabetes can contribute to the development of arthrosis. Traumatic causes can either be a macrotrauma such as bone break or microtrauma such as repetitive movements as a necessity to occupations and other activities. Inflammatory disease of the joint is also one factor that contributes to the onset of the degenerative joint disease.

Other factors are also considered for the degeneration of joints and breakdown of cartilage. This could also include the nutritional factors and other diseases and disorders or any other form of trauma directed towards the joints and cartilage.


There is no direct treatment to arrest cartilage breakdown and joint degeneration. Arthrosis is often treated towards the relief of symptoms and prevention of further damage and medical complications. Medications such as acetaminophen can be given to relieve the pain while non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be given and bought over the counter to relieve the pain and reduce the inflammation. A combination of different therapies can also help in reducing the pain while improving the movement of the joints affected. Lifestyle change is also encouraged geared towards the practice of losing weight to avoid overloading especially those weight-bearing joints.

Arthrosis vs Arthritis

Arthritis is an inflammation of the joint that is caused by numerous reasons and can cause pain, swelling, stiffness and warmth over the affected area.

Arthrosis is a degenerative disorder of the joint that is often non-inflammatory. It can cause pain that can range from mild to severe and may also result to some deformities depending on the affected joint.

Both the arthritis and arthrosis involves the joints but differ in the inflammatory process where arthritis is an inflammatory while arthrosis is non-inflammatory.


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    • fabbody profile image

      Ann Batten 

      4 years ago from New Zealand

      I had some ongoing pain in my knee some 15-20 years ago and was referred to a specialist. The specialist explained to me about cartilage breaking off and betting amongst the nerves and giving pain within the knee joint. He suggested I get an exercyle and the movement of the knee in the circular motion on the bike would polish the bones involved in the join and remove the bits of cartilage that had broken off. I have done this ever since and have managed to keep my kneed pain free and mobile. I am now 70 yrs. I also use a bike to ride round my local area. At times my knees are stiff at the beginning of the ride but soon free up.


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