Any analysis of the pathomechanics of osteoarthritis must consider the various forms of the disease. In general, osteoarthritis can be categorized as idiopathic, post traumatic, and other forms of joint degeneration.
Idiopathic osteoarthritis Idiopathic osteoarthritis occurs in previously intact joints with no apparent initiating factor or event and is related primarily to the natural aging process. Risk factors for idiopathic osteoarthritis include obesity, hormone levels, or genetics (Flores and Hochberg, 2003). Idiopathic osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis associated with aging. However, the rate of progression of osteoarthritis can vary substantially among different individuals with similar risk factors. The reason for variable rates of the progression of the disease with aging among seemingly similar patients has been the subject of numerous studies and will be addressed from a pathomechanical viewpoint in this chapter.
Post traumatic osteoarthritis Post traumatic osteoarthritis is the accelerated degeneration that occurs in a joint as the direct and indirect result of injury. Following an injury to a joint, such as the rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament or a tear of a meniscus, a patient is susceptible to developing osteoarthritic changes to the joint earlier in life (Daniel et al., 1994; Englund et al., 2003; Roos et al., 2001; Roos et al., 1995; von Porat et al., 2004). It is not clear whether the change in the mechanical environment or biological changes associated with the injury to the joint are the primary cause for the earlier onset of osteoarthritis, and it has been suggested (Andriacchi et al., 2004) that these factors are interrelated.
Others forms of osteoarthritis Osteoarthritis can also be caused by other conditions including gout (crystal formation in the joints), lupus (the body's defense system can harm the joints, the heart, the skin, the kidneys, and other organs), and viral hepatitis (an infection of the liver).
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