3 Osteoarthritis Flare-Up Causes
May 14, 2018
An osteoarthritis flare-up can occur for a variety of reasons. If you’ve dealt with or are dealing with osteoarthritis, you know just how bad these flare-ups can be. Osteoarthritis is no fun, but it’s certainly something you’ll live through. These are a few things that people with osteoarthritis need to look out for, and why.
3 Osteoarthritis Flare-Up Causes
Arthritis, especially osteoarthritis, can go from absent to urgency in a matter of seconds. An osteoarthritis flare-up can occur at any time, for seemingly any reason. Of course, this isn’t the case. Flare-ups occur for very specific reasons, even if you don’t see them. Indeed, the cause of osteoarthritis flare-ups lurks under the surface of your body and is almost entirely unnoticeable. To understand why they occur, we have to understand osteoarthritis inside and out.
We’ve discussed arthritis before, and what flare-ups can mean. Arthritis is not a disease or infection, but a joint disorder. Arthritis occurs when the cartilage of the joint has been worn away, leaving the bones vulnerable to scraping together. From that, we can discern that flare-ups are also caused by changes in the joint. Generally, an osteoarthritis flare-up is caused by inflammation of the joint. The same thing that gives us headaches gives us osteoarthritis flare-ups.
The Number 1 Cause of Osteoarthritis Flare-ups
Easily the most common cause of osteoarthritis flare-ups is joint overuse. Of course, this is what causes osteoarthritis in the first place.
When you are using a joint, the bones that make it up are rubbing against the cartilage between them. Bone is very strong, of course, which means that the friction can start to wear down that cartilage. This is normal. Everyone has this going on inside their body. Whenever a joint is in use, the bones are grinding against the cartilage. Eventually, the cartilage will be almost gone. This is where arthritis comes in.
When bone rubs against bone, you will experience a wide range of pain. No one enjoys this feeling, whether it’s dull or sharp.
The pain isn’t constant, though. Why is that?
The cartilage is worn down, but it isn’t entirely gone. For common use, the joint will be fine, if a little tense. Most cases of arthritis and osteoarthritis are like this, though they can certainly worsen over time.
In these cases, the pain becomes much worse when you use the joint beyond its capabilities. If you have arthritis in your wrist, for example, you might find that long hours spent at a computer can be incredibly painful. Similarly, you might want to avoid long, restless walks if you have joint pain in your knees.
The pain that overuse causes can be mirrored or compounded by repetitive motion. When you repeat an action, the chances it will be painful increase dramatically. Avoid long periods of doing the same thing, as it can lead to pain in the long term. It goes without saying that the same applies to injury: arthritis in the ankle will be much worse if you sprain your ankle.
Another thing that can cause an osteoarthritis flare-up is stress. Not stress of the joint, just stress. Why?
Most diseases and disorders can be worsened by stress. When you are feeling mentally and emotionally down, it makes the pain feel worse, even if it’s not actually worse. Unlike these diseases and disorders, though, arthritis can actually be caused by stress.
An osteoarthritis flare-up is caused by inflammation, which is in turn caused by molecules known as cytokines. Cytokines go by many names, but cytokine is the most common. These molecules are secreted by the body for a plethora of reasons. They are in charge of the communication between all of your cells. Cytokines are often compared to hormones because they function very similarly. The scientific difference between the two is still being debated.
Cytokines can communicate, truthfully or not, that stress is being put on the body. This, of course, leads to inflammation (or perceived inflammation). In turn, osteoarthritis can flare-up. If you are stressed and beginning to feel pain, this is likely the reason.
You may have heard a friend or relative, particularly an older one, say something like this: “There’s a storm coming. I can feel it in my bones.”
Likely, you would have dismissed the statement. It sounds absolutely ridiculous, doesn’t it? Don’t be too skeptical, though. It might actually be true.
When a storm comes in, there is a significant change in barometric pressure. This change can lead to a sudden tightening of ligaments and tendons, which will irritate any joint pain. It won’t always lead to pain, but it has been shown to lead to discomfort.
Your grandmother could be a great meteorologist, and anyone with arthritis needs to watch their stress levels. Osteoarthritis flare-ups can be difficult to handle, but they aren’t impossible to prevent. Keep an eye out for these three things.