Our joints work hard for us every day. Learn about our joints and what they do for us, and what symptoms may be a result of joint damage.
What is a joint?10
A “joint” is a complex of structures that keeps two or more bone surfaces aligned.
The bone extremities that form joints can be, in relation to one another:
- mobile, such as those in the knee, wrist, shoulder, elbow, ankle, and hip
- semi-mobile, such as the joints in the spine
- fixed, such as the joints in the skull or the pelvis
What is articulation?
The term “articulation” refers to a complex of structures that maintains two or more bone surfaces attached for purposes of motion.
Types of articulation
- moveable, such as those of the knee, wrist, shoulder, elbow, ankle, and hip
- semi-moveable, such as the articulation of the vertebral column
- fixed, as in the case of the bones of the skull or pelvis
Common Joint Concerns
Joint cracking and popping (crepitus) results from the rubbing of articular bony ends in the joints. Crepitus may be frequently accompanied by other symptoms such as joint pain, swelling, redness, or warmth at the affected area, and joint stiffness, especially in the early hours of the day.
Arthrosis is a degenerative alteration of one or more joints, characterized by progressive lesions in the joint cartilage and the underlying bones, which causes a varying degree of function limitation and has a negative effect on the quality of life.
Cartilage covers the articulating ends of bones and allows joints to move normally. When it wears thin, there is increased friction between the bones during movement. This can cause structural damage in the joint.
The results may be pain, swelling, and deformity of the bones and of the joint ligaments. Arthrosis is called idiopathic (primary arthrosis) when there is no known cause. It can also be secondary and derive from traumatic events, endocrine and metabolic diseases, or rheumatic disorders.
Symptoms may include joint pain (exacerbated at first by movement and/or load-bearing but can then become chronic in the later stages of the disease), rigidity (especially in the morning and after a period of inactivity), functional limitation, crepitus, and joint swelling. The most affected joints are the knees, the hips, the small joints in the hands, and in the cervical and lumbar regions of the spinal column.