What is an Arthrosis?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The word “arthrosis” is used in two different ways. In the first sense, it is used simply to refer to a joint at which two or more bones articulate for the purpose of allowing movement. For example, the knee is an arthrosis. In the second sense, people may use it to talk about disease in the joints; thus, someone may be said to “have arthrosis,” meaning that the cartilage in one or more joints is breaking down.

The knee is an example of an arthrosis, as it's a joint that allows for movement.
The knee is an example of an arthrosis, as it's a joint that allows for movement.

While joints are often depicted as the place where bones meet, this is not actually quite accurate. The bones in a joint are covered in tough cartilage and surrounded with connective tissue to create an articulated joint which can move smoothly within a range of motion determined by the type of joint and the limitations of the connective tissue. Bone on bone contact within a joint is actually undesirable, as bones are not designed to withstand the pressure and grinding which joints endure on a regular basis.

Issues with the gliding movement of the collarbone may cause pain and discomfort during exercise.
Issues with the gliding movement of the collarbone may cause pain and discomfort during exercise.

Ball and socket joints, such as the hip, consist of a bone which articulates with a socket created by another bone. Other types of joints include pivot joints, gliding joints, saddle joints, condyloid joints, and hinge joints. Pivot joints like those in the neck rotate, gliding joints such as the collarbone are designed to accommodate sliding movements, and saddle joints have a range of movement, but cannot rotate, with the thumb being an excellent example of this kind of arthrosis. Condyloid joints such as the wrist have similar patterns of movement, while hinge joints, as seen in the fingers, are designed to fold.

'Arthrosis' may refer to cartilage that is breaking down in one or more joints.
'Arthrosis' may refer to cartilage that is breaking down in one or more joints.

The diversity of arthroses in the body illustrates the many different ways in which the body moves. Different types of joints allow for stable, precise, and highly controlled movement. This is perhaps most notable in the hands, which have a high degree of dexterity. The coordination of the hands permitted in part by the types of joints present in the hand is often credited for the success of humans in general as a species.

Ball and socket joints, such as the hip, consist of a bone that articulates with a socket created by another bone.
Ball and socket joints, such as the hip, consist of a bone that articulates with a socket created by another bone.

When talking about joint disease, arthrosis is a primary disease process in the joint which causes the cartilage in the joint to break down. Over time, the wearing of the cartilage can lead to inflammation, stiffness, and other problems in the joint because the cartilage loss results in less freedom of movement. This can also be very painful, and may be treated in a variety of ways, including with medications to manage pain and inflammation.

Cartilage plays an important role in joints throughout the body, such as the knees, but can wear out after heavy use or injury.
Cartilage plays an important role in joints throughout the body, such as the knees, but can wear out after heavy use or injury.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register: