The Earliest Signs of Warning of Bone and Joint Diseases

by Johnny Jacks

While bone and joint diseases used to be more common in older people, nowadays this condition is tending to affect younger individuals. If not treated promptly and effectively, bone and joint diseases can lead to complications that affect health and quality of life. To better understand the disease and effective treatments for bone and joint diseases, we invite you to follow the information in the article below.

Bone and joint diseases and what you need to know

Overview of the human skeletal system

The bones in the body are connected by joints, creating the skeletal system that supports the body.

The human skeletal system consists of 206 bones, which not only support the body but also have functions such as blood cell production, fat storage, mineral and calcium storage for the body. Loss of bone minerals can lead to diseases such as osteoporosis and brittle bones.

There are three types of joints in the body classified based on their degree of mobility: immobile joints (such as the sutures in the skull), slightly mobile joints (such as the vertebrae in the spine), and synovial joints (such as the joints in the shoulders, hands, and feet). Among these, the slightly mobile and synovial joints are the most active and therefore more prone to erosion and degeneration, leading to joint diseases.

The skeletal structure is composed of cartilage and mineral salts (mainly calcium salts). Calcium deficiency can lead to bone-related diseases, where the elderly are particularly susceptible to rapid bone deterioration resulting in brittle, weak, and easily broken bones, dry joints, slow movement, and difficulty in mobility.

The main components of cartilage are proteoglycan and collagen. Proteoglycan is a major building block of cartilage that helps inhibit the enzyme lactase, which causes cartilage degeneration. Supplementing with products that provide proteoglycan can help regenerate degraded cartilage tissue and prevent cartilage degeneration.

Collagen in cartilage is type II collagen, which is interwoven to form a mesh-like structure that maintains flexibility in joints, reduces joint pain during movement, and also participates in body height development. Lack of collagen can lead to diseases such as dry joints, joint degeneration, joint pain, and difficulty in movement.

Bone and joint diseases and what you need to know

Bone and joint diseases and what you need to know

What are bone and joint diseases?

Bone and joint diseases are a collective term for skeletal and joint-related conditions that may be acute or chronic. If not detected and treated early, these diseases can have serious consequences on daily activities and health, and may even leave severe complications.

Risk factors

Joint diseases can occur at any age and gender, caused by various factors. However, these pathologies often manifest when there are risk factors, including old age, overweight/obesity, heavy labor…

Impact of aging: This is the leading cause of joint pain. Aging accelerates the body’s aging process, which in turn affects the joint system. The cartilage layers around the joint become thinner, causing stronger friction during movement, making the joint cartilage more susceptible to damage, swelling, pain, gradually weakening and leading to degeneration.

Overweight, obesity: In people who are overweight or obese, the joints bear the pressure from body weight, especially in the spinal and knee regions, leading to damaged ligaments, joint inflammation and degeneration.

Daily activities: Carrying heavy loads, sitting in improper positions, standing in one position for a long time, and prolonged sitting can cause stiffness in the bones and joints, hinder blood circulation that nourishes the joint cartilage, and increase the risk of joint inflammation and degeneration.

Sedentary lifestyle: With the advancement of technology, people are increasingly inactive, which increases the risk of developing diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, including joint diseases.

Genetics: Genetic factors are also a cause of joint diseases. If someone in the family has a history of lupus, then you may also be at risk of developing the same disease.

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Unhealthy diet: Lack of proper nutrition, especially calcium deficiency, reduces bone density and increases the risk of degeneration.

Million Common Symptoms of Joint Disease

Joint disease progresses slowly. In the early stages, there may be no noticeable signs. As the disease progresses, symptoms become more apparent, including:

  • Joint pain: the most common symptom, with varying degrees of pain depending on the location and severity of the disease. Pain increases with movement, changes in weather, or at night.
  • Stiffness: Inflammation of the joint causes a feeling of tightness and difficulty in movement. This symptom often appears in the morning after waking up. Stiffness can also occur after a period of inactivity.
  • Grinding sensation in the joint: Cartilage erosion, loss of synovial fluid, and fibrous capsule covering the joint causes the joint to move less smoothly, resulting in a rough, grating sensation.
  • Therefore, patients may hear a rough, grating sound when they move. Swelling and redness around the joint: This is a sign of joint inflammation. Depending on the severity of the inflammation, the degree of swelling, redness, and pain may vary.
  • Muscle weakness: Joint disease causes pain and discomfort, so patients often rest in one place. This inadvertently weakens the muscles around the joint, and may even cause muscle atrophy due to poor blood circulation.
  • Joint deformities: As the disease progresses to a severe level, the joint bone system is seriously damaged, and cartilage erosion can lead to joint deformities. The bone head may even shift outward, causing excruciating pain for the patient.
  • Other symptoms: Fatigue, fever, insomnia, etc., are some of the systemic signs of joint disease.
Two common bone and joint diseases

Two common bone and joint diseases

Two common bone and joint diseases

Arthritis

Arthritis is a condition in which the cushioning layer of joint cartilage is damaged, inflamed, eroded, causing swelling and pain in the area surrounding the joint. Arthritis commonly affects joints such as those in the hands, knees, and hips, making movement difficult and causing deformities. This disease can occur at different ages, but it is most commonly seen in elderly people.

The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis makes the cartilage stiff, smooth, and encases the bone ends where they form joints, leading to their breakdown.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory joint disease caused by an overactive immune system. This is an autoimmune disorder in which your immune system attacks your own body tissues.

Unlike the damage caused by the erosion process of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the synovial membrane of the joint, causing swelling, pain, and eventually leading to bone erosion and joint deformity. Rheumatoid arthritis usually starts in small joints, such as those in the fingers and toes. As the disease progresses, it affects more and more joints symmetrically.

In addition to the symptoms of joint swelling, pain, and deformity, rheumatoid arthritis can also cause symptoms in other organs of the body such as the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, kidneys, bone marrow, and blood vessels…

Some common diagnostic methods for diagnosing low-grade joint inflammation that doctors often use include blood tests and X-rays. The results of blood tests in patients with low-grade joint inflammation often show an increased erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or C-reactive protein (CRP) level, indicating that the inflammation process is ongoing in the body. In addition, other tests such as testing for low joint factor and cyclic peptide antibodies can also be used. X-rays can help doctors monitor the condition and progression of low-grade joint inflammation, while computed tomography and ultrasound can help evaluate the severity of the disease.

To improve the symptoms of low-grade joint inflammation and prevent the progression of joint deformities, doctors often prescribe anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, and slow-acting anti-rheumatic drugs. In addition, using therapeutic measures can also make inflamed joints more flexible and improve the quality of life.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is an imbalance of cartilage and joint tissues around the joint. The causes of this imbalance are many factors such as age, genetics, development, metabolism, and trauma leading to aging, erosion, bone spurs, and cavities under the cartilage. Over time, the cushioning cartilage in the joint heads gradually deteriorates and collapses, leading to reduced friction between the joints, gradually affecting the entire joint.

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Osteoarthritis often has slowly progressing and worsening symptoms over time. The most common signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include joint pain, especially during vigorous exercise, joint stiffness after a long period of inactivity, or stiffness in the morning after waking up, joint swelling in cases of osteoarthritis associated with inflammation, and reduced joint flexibility and difficulty moving the joint.

Disc Herniation

The intervertebral disc, made up of the nucleus pulposus and annulus fibrosus, sits between the vertebrae and serves to cushion and facilitate smooth movement of the spine. Disc herniation occurs when the disc is displaced from its normal position due to a tear in the annulus fibrosus, allowing the nucleus pulposus to protrude and compress the spinal canal or adjacent nerve roots. Late diagnosis of disc herniation can lead to recurring and worsening pain, discomfort, and decreased mobility.

Disc herniation commonly occurs in the lower back, but can also occur in the cervical spine. The symptoms of disc herniation depend on the location and whether the nerve roots are affected. Unlike some other joint and bone disorders, disc herniation only affects one side of the body.

The symptoms of disc herniation can significantly impact daily life. If you have a herniated disc in the lower back, you may experience pain in the pelvic area that can even radiate down to the thigh and calf; conversely, if you have a herniated disc in the cervical spine, you may experience pain in the shoulder and arm. Some cases of disc herniation are asymptomatic, and patients only discover the condition when imaging tests are performed by a doctor.

Spinal degeneration

Spinal degeneration is a chronic disease that progresses slowly and often occurs in the lumbar or cervical spine. The disease is common in older people and is related to posture and movement. If not treated early, it can cause nerve compression, spinal deformity, joint cartilage or intervertebral disc degeneration, and more.

Spinal degeneration is often associated with old age, but it can also result from a tumor, arthritis, or infection. Pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots due to degeneration can also lead to spinal degeneration. Common symptoms of spinal degeneration include spinal deformity, limited mobility, pain (acute or chronic, when moving/resting), nerve damage (numbness, sexual dysfunction, etc.).

Spinal degeneration conditions are often identified through spinal imaging. Images can be obtained from X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography to view the spine, intervertebral discs, nerve roots, and spinal canal. In addition to using pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, treatment through therapy methods can help improve spinal function in the best way possible.

Spinal osteophytes

Spinal osteophytes are a variant of spinal degeneration characterized by bony outgrowths forming on the outside of the spinal column, causing compression of the nerve roots and blood vessels. The nature of spinal osteophytes is due to spinal inflammation, injury, or calcium deposits on the spinal ligaments. Currently, spinal osteophytes are becoming younger due to unhealthy living habits and activities among young people.

Sciatica

Sciatica is a pain related to the large sciatic nerve. It is characterized by a long-lasting pain that radiates from the lumbar spine down to the hip, thigh, and leg. The location of the damage will have a different distribution of pain.

Sciatica is determined to be caused by a herniated disc. Additionally, other causes can lead to sciatica, including bone spurs on the spinal column or spinal stenosis, which causes compression of a part of the nerve root.

The most noticeable symptom of sciatica is a pain that radiates from the lower back through the buttocks and down the back of the leg. The level of pain can vary, from mild to severe, or even a sharp, shooting pain. Sometimes, there may be a sensation of numbness or electric shock. Typically, sciatica only occurs on one side of the body.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disorder characterized by a decrease in bone density and quality, which increases the risk of bone fractures. Osteoporosis often has no specific symptoms and only presents typical symptoms when the disease has progressed.

In the normal bone development cycle, bone loss is a natural phase. However, when bone loss occurs faster than normal, it can lead to osteoporosis and increase the risk of bone fractures. Osteoporosis typically presents clear signs or causes pain only when a bone fracture occurs. Fractures are usually the first sign, but the appearance of a stooped posture in older individuals is also a sign of age-related osteoporosis.

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To slow down the process of osteoporosis, we can supplement our bones with nutrients such as calcium, Vitamin D3, and engage in exercise, eat a moderate diet, supplement good food for bones, and change to a healthier lifestyle.

Gout Disease

The cause of Gout disease is the metabolism of purine in the kidneys. Normally, uric acid is dissolved in the blood and excreted through the kidneys into urine. In some cases, such as consuming too many purine-rich foods or purine metabolism disorders, the kidneys cannot excrete all of the uric acid in the blood, causing it to accumulate in the body and deposit in the joints, leading to recurrent joint inflammation. The most common site of inflammation is the big toe joint and less frequently, other joints.

Gout disease is a common and complex type of arthritis that can occur in anyone. It is characterized by sudden, intense pain, swelling, and redness in the joints, especially in the big toe joint. People with Gout often experience acute attacks of severe pain that seriously affect their quality of life.

Gout can be treated with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medications, as well as drugs to prevent Gout complications by reducing the level of uric acid in the blood. Anti-inflammatory drugs commonly used include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, and colchicine. Meanwhile, drugs that help regulate uric acid levels in the blood include uricosuric drugs (probenecid) and drugs that prevent uric acid production (allopurinol and febuxostat).

How is bone and joint disease treated?

How is bone and joint disease treated?

How is bone and joint disease treated?

The treatment of bone and joint disease varies depending on the specific condition and its severity. Some common treatments include:

  • Medications: These can include over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as well as prescription medications like corticosteroids, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and biologics.
  • Physical therapy: This can include exercises and stretches to improve range of motion and strength, as well as hot or cold therapy to relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Lifestyle changes: Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding activities that aggravate symptoms can all help manage bone and joint disease.
  • Surgery: In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace damaged joints or bones.
  • Alternative therapies: Some people with bone and joint disease find relief from complementary and alternative therapies like acupuncture, massage, and herbal remedies. However, it’s important to talk to a healthcare professional before trying any new therapies.

It’s important to work with a healthcare professional to develop an individualized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs and goals.

Prevention and Control of Bone and Joint Diseases

There are many ways to prevent bone and joint diseases for people of all ages through daily habits. Below are some effective methods to prevent bone and joint diseases.

  • Diet: a scientific diet that provides sufficient essential nutrients increases the flexibility and durability of bones and joints, and prevents joint degeneration. Calcium is an indispensable component for bone and joint health, and prevents diseases such as joint inflammation, joint degeneration, and osteoporosis. Therefore, we should supplement calcium daily through foods rich in calcium such as shrimp, crab, fish, and milk.
  • In addition, those who suffer from bone and joint diseases should avoid eating animal organs, fast food, greasy food, alcohol, and stimulants. These foods and drinks increase the risk of developing joint inflammation, gout, and other related diseases.
  • Weight loss and regular exercise: Controlling body weight helps reduce pressure on the joints. Gentle exercise also helps prevent joint stiffness and damage. Start with light exercises, then gradually increase according to individual suitability, and avoid over-exerting at the beginning.
  • Lifestyle and work habits: Avoid improper postures or sudden movements during daily activities and work. Do not stand or sit in one position for too long as it affects the joints’ endurance. Change positions frequently to help joints stay flexible.
  • Keeping joints warm during weather changes: protecting joints during cold weather is also a way to prevent joint pain and stiffness.

In addition, when experiencing any abnormal signs related to joint health, it is advisable to see a doctor immediately for timely treatment and to avoid health complications caused by delaying treatment.

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