Common Joint Injuries and Conditions

Moving joints are vulnerable as a result of the role they play in connecting bones and the weight and range of movement that some support. Movement introduces wear and tear as well as potential for extension beyond the intended boundaries. While over time general wear will cause some moving joints to degenerate, there are a number of different factors that can contribute to, or accelerate, this process - including repeated injury to the same joint resulting in either posttraumatic or osteoarthritis; excessive weight which wears down the cushioning cartilage between the bones; and repetitive stress to a particular joint such as in a sport or work-related activity.

  • Bursitis - Is the inflammation of the "bursa" containing the synovial fluid in a synovial joint. Read more
  • Arthritis of the Hand and Elbow - Is the result of osteoarthritis, which breaks down the cartilage that provides cushion between bones. It most often affects the fingers. Read more
  • Arthritis of the Thumb - Is a form of osteoarthritis that affects the thumb joint. Read more
  • Carpal Instability - Is an unstable environment created in the wrist as a result of its broad range of movement and frequent use, combined with the lack of muscular attachment between the small wrist bones. Read more
  • Distal Radial Ulnar Joint Injury - Is a stress to the DRUJ resulting from either an activity or a fracture. Read more
  • Wrist Synovitis - Is the inflammation of the synovial membrane lining the joints in the wrist often resulting from Rheumatoid arthritis. Read more

Diagnosis
While the most common indication of a potentially degenerative joint condition is persistent pain, sometimes disabling, stiffness and possibly deformity at the joint, the type of tests most commonly used in diagnosing a joint condition requiring either conservative or surgical treatment include:

  • A physical examination assesses the amount of pain a patient is in while performing range of motion tests – as well as any evidence of deformity
  • X-rays of the joints help determine loss of joint space and distinguish between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Imaging studies such as magnetic resonance (MRI), computed tomography (CT) and possibly bone densitometry in order to assess the condition of the bone, are used together to assess the overall condition of the joint and surrounding ligaments and muscles.
  • Blood tests in order to determine the presence of an infection or arthritis.

Delaying Joint Degeneration
There are a number of things that can be done to prevent the unnecessary degeneration of joints. The proper treatment of joint injuries can prevent the early onset of arthritis and other degenerative conditions in the joint of an injured limb. Proper training in a technique and activity affecting moving joints can prevent unnecessary injuries that could lead to degenerative conditions. And a nutritious diet and body weight appropriate for an individual's frame can also add longevity to load bearing joints.

The avoidance of the same repetitive task or activity that causes stress and inflammation in the joint can also be beneficial in joint preservation.