Why Osteoarthritis is Painful

Why Osteoarthritis is Painful - How joint pain and the destruction of cartilage are related is not fully understood. Cartilage itself does not cause osteoarthritis pain because there are no nerve structures in cartilage to transmit pain signals. Most likely, the pain of osteoarthritis is caused by the irritation of other tissues in and around the affected joints. Chemical messenger substances, such as prostaglandin E2, that are associated with the disease process, may cause this irritation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce osteoarthritis pain because they inhibit the production of prostaglandin.

Other Conditions That Can Cause Joint Pain - There are a number of conditions other than osteoarthritis that can cause joint pain. Chronic strain of the ligaments, inflammation of the ligaments and other tissues, and pain from other areas of the body can cause joint pain. In many cases, only a thorough medical examination can determine exactly what causes the joint pain.

Pain and Stiffness versus X-Ray Evidence - People whose x-ray images show signs of osteoarthritis often do not experience symptoms related to osteoarthritis. One study found that fewer than 10% of men and about one-quarter of women with moderate or severe osteoarthritis in finger joints also reported pain or stiffness in these joints. Another osteoarthritis study showed that only a minority of patients over 65 years of age with x-ray evidence of osteoarthritis had symptoms.