Understanding the Difference between Primary and Secondary Osteoarthritis

Understanding the Difference between Primary and Secondary OsteoarthritisJoint pain, stiffness, grating bones and even tenderness are a few symptoms one suffers when diagnosed with Osteoarthritis. This disease is one of the most common forms of Arthritis. Also known as degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis affects bone cartilage. As the disease progresses, this cartilage and the cushioning it provides deteriorates. The pain one feels is no different be it primary or secondary osteoarthritis. The main difference between the two lies in what causes them. Let’s take a closer look.

Primary Osteoarthritis: This form of osteoarthritis develops due to aging and the wear and tear that comes along with it. It is not caused by any existing disease and is not due to any injury.   Aging increases the water content of the cartilage, in turn gradually decreasing its protein content.  When this happen the cartilage begins to flake and develop tiny crevasses. This deterioration causes friction between the bones that leads to pain, inflammation and limitations on joint mobility. This type of osteoarthritis is typically seen in people above the age of 55. It is believed that if we all live long enough, at some point, everybody will be affected by primary osteoarthritis.

Secondary Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis in this form develops due to a specific cause such as injury or another disease. It is for this reason that there are more chances of it affecting people at an earlier age. There are a few risk factors that contribute to the onset of the disease.

Obesity: After aging, Obesity is one of the most significant risk factors that cause osteoarthritis. The extra body weight that one has with obesity puts extreme pressure on the joints causing them to deteriorate faster. In fact osteoarthritis of the knee is a very common form of the disease, as the person’s upper body weight bears down on the knees.

Injury: Fractures, ligament tears and repetitive movements, can all lead to the development of osteoarthritis. These injuries have a long-lasting impact, even if you recover from them completely.

Genetics: There are a number of genetic traits that increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Your bone and joint structure are influenced by genetics. Some are born with irregular joint structures that make them more vulnerable to physical wear and tear. In particular there may be a strong correlation between genetics and osteoarthritis of the knee and hip.

Disease: Inflammation from other diseases can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis. In diseases such as gout, crystal deposits in the cartilage lead to degeneration and osteoarthritis.

Sedentary Lifestyle: Apart from the risk of putting on excess weight, there are other reasons why a sedentary lifestyle can be a contributing factor. The most important being that people who are sedentary tend to have weaker joints and muscles. These weak muscles in turn don’t provide proper support and stability to the joints, leading to early degeneration.

Whether you have primary or secondary osteoarthritis, the treatment and approach towards both is the same. The focus of medication is to relieve pain, reduce inflammation and maintain or improve joint functioning. There is no specific medical treatment to halt cartilage degeneration. Nor is there any treatment to repair the damaged cartilage. Treatment for osteoarthritis is therefore usually a combination of some medication and a number of conservative, physical treatments such as exercise, weight management, and using supports such as splints, canes, walkers, and braces. Low-impact exercises like swimming, walking and cycling are usually recommended for patients of osteoarthritis.

The main thing to remember especially with secondary osteoarthritis is that it is preventable. A little care and a few lifestyle adjustments can go a long way in slowing down and preventing the onset of osteoarthritis. As with any medical condition, it is best to seek the advice of a professional. And who better to guide you on joint pain than the team at Spinalogy Clinic!

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