Joint Diseases HealthQM

What Are the Most Common Joint Diseases?

Joint diseases include any pathology affecting an articulation or more, resulting in inflammation and degeneration of the articular tissues. The following disorders are the most common:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Bursitis
  • Gout

Joint diseases or arthropathies can be due to joint trauma, autoimmunity, infections, metabolic, or heredity.

1. What is joint Made of?

Joints or articulations connect the bones of the body and their composition depends on the type of joint that can be fibrous, cartilaginous, synovial, or facet [1].

1.1. What Is Fibrous Joint?

Fibrous Joints are fixed joints that do not move or have very restricted mobility. They are made of collagen fibers and are further divided into sutures, syndesmoses, and gomphoses.

  • What Is Suture Joint?

Suture joints are the non-moving joints of the skull (cranium) in adults and which at birth had the mobility to allow the brain to develop further.

Once the brain developed, sutures lose their mobility and are held together with fibers known as Sharpey’s fibers that ossify and lead to the formation of one bone, the skull.

  • What Is Syndesmosis?

Syndesmoses (plural for syndesmosis) are slightly moving joints that are together through interosseous membranes such as the one connecting the tibia bone with the fibula bone.

  • What is Gomphosis joint?

Gomphoses (plural for gomphosis) are non-moving joints that connect the teeth to their sockets in the upper jawbone or mandible.

1.2. What Is Cartilaginous Joint?

This type of joint bones connections involves hyaline cartilage and/or fibrocartilage. Bones with hyaline cartilage are associated with joints of long bones, while bones with hyaline and fibrocartilage are associated with bones such as the pubic symphysis.

1.3. What Is Synovial Joint?

Synovial joints are the main joints of the body that can freely move. The type of joint is made of the synovial cavity which contains the synovial liquid secreted by the synovial membrane (synovium) and that fills the gap between the articular hyaline cartilage covering the ends of two bones.

The synovial cavity and the articular cartilages laterally surround the bursa, ligaments, and tendons. Examples of this type of joint are the knees and the wrists.

1.4. What Is Facet Joint?

Facet joints are joints that connect two vertebrates through their processes.

2. What Is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease characterized by an abrasive wearing of the cartilage of the joint and the underlying bone tissues resulting in the generation of abnormal bone growth from the margin of the affected joint [2].

Osteoarthritis mostly affects the fingers, hips, lower back, and neck. It affects 10% of men and 18% of women over 60 years of age, worldwide.

2.1. What Causes Osteoarthritis?

The causes of osteoarthritis can be primary or secondary.

2.1.1. What Is Primary Osteoarthritis?

Primary osteoarthritis is osteoarthritis which cause is not known (Idiopathic).

2.1.2. What Is Secondary Osteoarthritis?

Secondary osteoarthritis is osteoarthritis caused by a secondary condition or disease such as:

  • Trauma

Injuries causing damages to the joints can result in secondary osteoarthritis.

  • Congenital Joint Abnormalities

These abnormalities are acquired during embryonic life or at birth such as arthrogryposis multiplex congenital (crooked joints), or spondylolysis.

  • Metabolic Diseases

The accumulation of minerals in the body including the joints is associated with diseases such as Wilson’s disease (accumulation of copper), hemochromatosis (accumulation of iron), or chondrocalcinosis (accumulation of calcium).

  • Join Infections

Join infection by a pathogen can result in the inflammation of joints that can lead to osteoarthritis.

  • Disorders of the Hyaline Cartilage

These disorders include diseases such as osteochondritis dissecans (non-traumatic loose body in the joints).

  • Endocrine Diseases

Endocrine diseases, such as acromegaly, result in the enlargement of the joints that can cause osteoarthritis.

  • Neurogenic Arthropathy

Neurogenic Arthropathy or Charcot Joint is a degenerative disease of weight-bearing joints.

  • Aseptic Necrosis

This disorder is associated with the lack of blood supply to the joints causing necrosis (type of cell death).

2.2. What Are the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Crepitus (crackling sound of the affected joint)
  • Calcic spurs on the fingers and toes (outgrowth of new bones)

3. What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects primarily the joints but also organs of the body.

It is due to the attack of the joints by the body’s own immune system by cytokines, chemokines, and metalloproteases (tissue ingesting enzymes) causing inflammation of the synovial membrane (synovium), and the destruction of the cartilage and bone tissue of the affected joint [3].

3.1. What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?

The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown; however, several risk factors have been proposed:

  • Genetic Factors

There is an increase of rheumatoid arthritis in individuals with a family history of this disease which may involve genes involved in major histocompatibility complex (MHC) that plays an essential role in adaptive immune response [4].

  • Environmental Factors

Environmental Factors including smoking and viral infections may contribute to the inflammation.

3.2. What Are the Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Fixed deformities
  • Fatigue
  • Anorexia

4. What Is Bursitis?

Bursitis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the bursa affecting joints of the knee, hip, elbow, Achilles tendons, and Ischia.

4.1. What Causes Bursitis?

Bursitis is due to the following causes:

  • Injury
  • Inflammation (rheumatoid arthritis, gout, spondylitis, and psoriatic arthritis)
  • Infection (e.g., Staphylococcus aureus)

4.2. What Are the Symptoms of Bursitis?

Symptoms of bursitis are mainly associated with pain, swelling, and limited motion of the joint.

5. What Is Gout?

Gout is characterized by the deposition of monosodium urate around and in the joints due to hyperuricemia (a high level of uric acid in the blood) [5].

The most common affected joints are those of the toe, knee, wrist, ankle, and elbow.

5.1. What Causes Gout?

Hyperuricemia is due to decreased renal or intestinal excretion of urate, increased production of urate, or increased intake of purine-rich foods such as liver, sardines, mussels, herring, anchovies, asparagus, and mushrooms.

5.2. What Are the Symptoms of Gout?

Gout is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Sudden onset of pain
  • Severe pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Warmth
  • Tenderness


Joints are extremely important in our everyday life as it allows us to sit, walk, pick a book to read, or exercise. However, alterations in any component of the joint can make all these simple body movements difficult to execute, particularly, when these alterations affect the body-bearing joints.

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