Different ways that osteoarthritis can develop

Last modified: December 12, 2019

All joints can be affected by osteoarthritis. Depending on how the disease develops, we can talk about incipient osteoarthritis, primary osteoarthritis and secondary osteoarthritis. If many joints are involved in the same person, it is called polyosteoarthritis or generalized osteoarthritis. In these cases, it can be difficult to distinguish osteoarthritis from other systemic joint diseases that also affect the entire body. One example of these is rheumatoid arthritis. If you are suffering from osteoarthritis, you can alleviate the symptoms through different exercise programs. If you suspect that you have joint disease, you can either contact a healthcare center or a physiotherapist, or alternatively, you can download the app Joint Academy.

Incipient osteoarthritis

Also arthritis is a disease that can appear in many different joints, for example, hips, back or knees. The disease can appear without having any discomfort, and it is called in this case incipient osteoarthritis or silent osteoarthritis. Incipient osteoarthritis can suddenly transition into a form of osteoarthritis that produces symptoms if the joint is exposed to major strain. This may be walking more than you normally do or working in the garden after having rested for a long time. It can feel like the joint pain comes on suddenly, but this is not the case. The changes in the joints have actually been occurring for a long period of time without producing symptoms.

Primary osteoarthritis

The most common way that osteoarthritis develops is through many years of overstraining the joint. In these cases, where the joint disease develops over time, and the symptoms appear gradually, it is called primary osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, many people who are affected do not seek treatment for their joint pain since they believe that this is a natural part of aging. It is true that osteoarthritis increases as you age, but it is not just aging that causes changes in the joints. Instead, it involves an imbalance in the factors that build up cartilage and those that break it down. The reasons for this are not entirely clear. However, it is clear that changes in the joint occur both at the microscopic and macroscopic level, in other words, at the visible level and involve inflammation in the joint.

It is also nice to know that help is available. There is currently treatment available in the form of exercise training that can reduce the pain. This is available at healthcare centers, from a physiotherapist and online through the Joint Academy.

Secondary osteoarthritis

The second form of osteoarthritis arises as a result of an injury. Post-traumatic or secondary osteoarthritis can arise after a trauma to the joint. A trauma involves a serious impact or twisting. The disease isn’t clearly noticed at the time of the injury, rather the symptoms will arise much later. A trauma that can cause this includes, for example, a sharp sprain to the joint during athletics or an injury from falling where you have hit the joint, such as falling from a bicycle. Broken bones can also cause secondary osteoarthritis. This applies in particular if the bone fracture goes into the joint and involves damage to the cartilage. When osteoarthritis develops also varies significantly. Sometimes the symptoms of osteoarthritis can appear after a few years and sometimes it may take decades.

Read more about who can be affected by osteoarthritis.