What is calcification? What are the symptoms, stages and treatment methods?

Calcification, which is called degenerative joint disease, degenerative arthritis or osteoarthritis (OA), is the most common chronic disease of the joints. Calcification can affect any joint, but most often occurs in the small joints of the knee, hip, waist, neck, thumb and other fingers, and the base joint of the thumb.

Although arthritis can be seen in people of all ages, it is more common in people over the age of 65. Common risk factors; Increased age, obesity, previous joint injury, overuse of joints, weak thigh muscles, and genetic predisposition. Symptoms related to knee calcification are observed in one in two adults throughout their lives. Calcification findings develop in the hip joint in one out of four adults until the age of 85. 1 out of 12 people aged 60 and over has osteoarthritis in their hand joints. Neck calcification is a rare condition.


What causes calcification?

In the joints, a solid material called cartilage covers the end of each bone. In normal joints, cartilage provides a soft, slippery surface for joint movement and acts as a cushion between bones. In cases of calcification, the cartilage structure deteriorates due to wear. This wear also causes pain. Swelling in the joints and problems occur in joint movements.

As osteoarthritis worsens over time, bones can break down and cause an accumulation of bone fragments within the joint called joint rat. Pieces of bone or cartilage can crumble and accumulate around the joint. This creates an inflammatory process in the body. Substances called cytokines and enzymes that accumulate in the area with the inflammatory process cause more damage to the cartilage. Friction between bones also causes more joint damage and more pain.


What are the symptoms of calcification?

Symptoms of arthritis vary depending on the joints affected and the severity of the ailment. However, the most common symptoms are pain and stiffness. Stiffness and pain in the joints are common, especially in the morning or after resting. Affected joints may swell, especially after prolonged activities. Symptoms tend to develop gradually over time instead of coming on suddenly. Some of the common symptoms include:


  • Decreased joint stiffness and limitation of movement with movement,
  • Clicking or cracking sound when a joint is bent
  • Mild swelling around the joint
  • Joint pain that gets worse after activity or towards the end of the day.

Some symptoms that occur in different parts of the body in arthritis;

-Hip: Pain is felt in the groin area or hip, sometimes in the knee or thigh.

– Knees: When moving the knee, a “squeaking” sound or a “scratching” feeling occurs.

-Fingers. Bone protrusion on the joint edge, swelling, tenderness and redness in the fingers can be seen. There may be pain in the thumb base joint.

-Foot: Pain and tenderness are felt in the big joint at the base of the big toe. There may be swelling in the ankles or toes.



What are the causes of calcification?

As the age progresses, the risk of osteoarthritis increases. Women are more prone to calcification than men. Since the load on the joints increases in overweight individuals, the risk of calcification is higher. The risk increases in individuals who have suffered joint injuries due to sports and accidents in the past. Calcification is more common in professionals who cause repetitive strains on the joints. Some people are genetically susceptible. Those born with a congenital bone or joint disease also have a higher risk of osteoarthritis.



How is arthritis diagnosed?

During a physical exam, your doctor will examine your affected joint closely, checking for tenderness, swelling or redness, and range of motion in the joint. Your doctor may also recommend imaging and laboratory tests. X-ray and MRI are the imaging methods used. Blood test and joint fluid analysis can also be done for diagnosis.


What are the arthritis treatment methods?

There is no cure for arthritis, but there are different options to manage symptoms. Doctors prescribe medication for pain and inflammation in the joints. Symptoms can be alleviated with physical therapy. Surgery may be required in some patients. Intra-articular drug injections are also among the preferred treatment methods. The long-term management of the disease includes several factors:

  • Managing symptoms such as pain, stiffness and swelling,
  • Increasing joint mobility and flexibility,
  • To lose weight in a healthy way,
  • Don’t get enough exercise.

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