The word ‘ Arthritis’ refers to pain and inflammation of the joints. The classical feature of arthritis is inflammation as well as it is also a defensive mechanism by which the body reacts protectively against invasion of the body cells or tissues. Hips, knees, ankles, elbows and fingers are the most commonly affected joints in arthritis.
The clinical characteristics of inflammation are redness, pain, heat, swelling and few other features are loss of mobility or stiffness, instability and deformity.
PHYSIOLOGY OF ARTHRITIS
The meeting point of two bones is at joint and they are connected in a way that permits each bone to move in relation to the other. A smooth white cartilage cap is present at the end of each bone and it is a tough tissue acting like a cushion when the joint is in use, thus preventing the bone to bone rubbing and consequent wear and tear of bone.
There is a membrane called synovial membrane and it contains liquid called synovial fluid which lubricates the cartilage. The synovial membrane is delicate and it is protected by a strong, fibrous layer called the capsule.
If there is sluggish circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid in the joint and the synovial fluid grows stagnant, the waste products and poisons of cellular metabolism build up in lubricating fluid (synovial fluid) of the joint rather than being efficiently transported to the skin and kidneys for elimination from the body. The acidic wastes and the toxins which get accumulated in the joint fluid irritate the sensitive nerve fibers in the joint which causes pain and stiffness. The structure of the joint begins to degenerate if such situation persists for a long time. The joint fluid starts drying up and the soft cartilage lining corrodes away and the bones start accumulating large amount of calcium which leads to formation of new bone growth limiting the movement of the joint. Slowly the whole joint is destroyed and the movement becomes impossible.
A careful examination and analysis of the synovial fluid can provide a clue to determine the type and extent of arthritis. The other causes and types of arthritis will be discussed in the coming posts.