Common Bone and Joint Conditions

Did you know the human body has more than 200 bones? And more than 200 joints that connect these bones? We don’t stop to consider how all these components work together to allow us to walk, run, jump, climb, dance and swim... until we find ourselves a spectator in our own lives.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disorder. OA occurs when the cartilage between two joints wears down so the bones rub together, resulting in swelling and stiffness. Symptoms usually appear in middle age, and almost everyone has some symptoms by the age of 70.

Symptoms

  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Mild joint stiffness and swelling sometimes occurs 

Causes

  • Family history
  • Being overweight
  • Fractures or other joint injuries
  • Overuse
  • Playing sports that involve direct impact on the joint
  • Certain medical conditions can also affect joint health

Prevention

  • Don't overuse a painful joint at work or during activities
  • Maintain a normal body weight
  • Strengthen muscles around weight-bearing joints

Gout

Gout is painful condition affecting one joint, usually a toe or other joint in the foot or ankle.  In men, it first occurs most commonly in middle age; in women, it first occurs later in life.

Symptoms

  • Sudden swelling and pain of a joint; 
  • This often occurs during the night

Cause

  • Gout is caused by blood levels of uric acid that are too high
  • Seafood, meat, organ-meats (liver for example) and alcoholic beverages can start an attack
  • The use of some diuretics (“water pills”) can also be associated with attacks

Prevention

  • Avoiding foods known to worsen gout
  • Medications prescribed by your health care provider can help prevent gout attacks

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long-term, autoimmune disease that leads to inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. RA can occur at any age, but is more common in middle age.

Symptoms

  • Morning stiffness that lasts more than one hour, typically in the morning
  • Pain and swelling of the joints of the hands, feet and wrists

Cause

The cause of RA is unknown. Infection, genes, and hormone changes may be linked to the disease.

Prevention

There is no known prevention. Smoking cigarettes appears to worsen RA, so it is important to avoid tobacco. Early treatment can help prevent further joint damage.

Bursitis

Bursitis is the swelling and irritation of a bursa, which is a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between muscles, tendons, and joints.

Symptoms

  • Pain and tenderness when you press around the joint
  • Stiffness and aching when you move the affected joint
  • Swelling, warmth, or redness over the joint

Cause

  • Overuse or change in activity level
  • Trauma, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or infection
  • Sometimes the cause cannot be found

Prevention

  • Avoid activities that include repetitive movements

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease. It is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to fracture.

Symptoms

  • Loss of height (as much as 6 inches) overtime
  • A stooped posture may develop

Causes

  • Family History
  • Drop in estrogen levels at the time of menopause
  • Drinking large amounts of alcohol
  • Low body weight
  • Smoking
  • Certain medications and medical conditions

Prevention

  • Eat a balanced diet including calcium and vitamin D
  • Do not drink large amounts of alcohol
  • Do not smoke
  • Get regular exercise
Last reviewed: 
June 2018

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