A joint disorder is a medical condition involving the joints of the body. A number of conditions fall under the umbrella of joint disorders, ranging from hereditary conditions to acquired infections. Medical professionals such as rheumatologists, orthopedic surgeons, and geriatric specialists can offer assistance to patients struggling with joint disorders.
Some disorders are inherited, such as Paget's disease of bone, a condition in which bone remodeling is rapidly accelerated. The rapid breakdown and rebuilding of bone can cause arthritis in the joints. People can also acquire conditions like Charcot's joints, also known as neuropathic arthropathy, in which the joints are progressively destroyed because the patient has a reduced sensitivity to pain. People with this condition can develop inflammation and infection so severe that amputation may be necessary to correct the problem if it is not caught early.
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is another example of a joint disorder. This condition involves the chronic inflammation of the bones of the jaw. Joint disorders can also include the development of tumors in the joints, as tumors can develop anywhere in the body, given the right conditions. Another disorder which can involve the joints is osteonecrosis, in which bone dies because the blood supply is impaired. The joints can also become infected in osteomyelitis.
One of the most famous examples of a joint disorder is gout, a painful condition caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints, classically in the big toe. Patients can also develop pseudogout, caused by calcium phosphate crystals. Gout has been plaguing people for centuries in many regions of the world, and these conditions can be very debilitating and frustrating, in addition to being challenging to treat.
Arthritis is another large family of conditions within the joint disorders, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, septic arthritis, and Still's disease. In addition to appearing as a standalone condition, arthritis can also appear secondary to another disease. Many patients with Lyme disease, for example, develop joint pain and eventually arthritis. Treatment for arthritis usually focuses on managing the associated pain and stiffness, as the progressive damage generally cannot be reversed or repaired.
A joint disorder can be quite painful and difficult to treat. The sooner the condition is recognized and addressed, the better the prognosis will be, because many joint disorders cause progressive damage which may be difficult to address. Patients can support joint health with gentle exercise, a balanced diet, and attentive care to all the joints of the body.