Premature arthritis symptoms can evolve from repetitive motions that put undue stress on cartilage in joints and from injuries that harm joints. Damage to large or small joints inhibits the body’s ability to repair cartilage that is worn down too rapidly. It can cause painful bumps to grow on the joint, called premature arthritis or degenerative arthritis.
Cartilage releases enzymes that aid in rebuilding it to replace the tissue worn away by normal activity. After an injury to the joint, an imbalance in enzymes causes the cartilage to degenerate faster than the body can repair it. This might leave rough spots between bones, which may eventually erode completely, causing bone to rub against bone.
Premature arthritis is most visible on the hands and the feet, especially when the fingers and toes are affected. The joints may appear deformed, with large, protruding bumps on the sides of the joints. One joint on the hand or foot may be affected or several. The condition can also appear in the knee, spine or hip.
There is no cure for osteoarthritis. Doctors commonly treat arthritis with anti-inflammatory drugs that can also control pain. Salves and creams that are applied to the joint topically can also offer pain relief for some patients. When premature arthritis symptoms are severe, steroids injected into the joint can reduce discomfort for several months in some patients. Antidepressants also might help reduce depression for those living with continual pain.
Surgery is another option for those suffering from premature arthritis that cannot be controlled with medication. Surgeons can remove the bony growths from joints and realign the bones to reduce the amount of abrasion. Joint replacement surgery is another option to correct the condition.
Mild or severe injuries to a joint can lead to premature arthritis symptoms that might become disabling. When a bone is fractured in a fall, accident or sports injury, it can heal incorrectly and induce uneven wear on cartilage. Premature arthritis symptoms affecting the knee usually stem from damaged ligaments that prevent the joint from moving smoothly. This is a common injury seen in people who play contact sports.
Several factors may increase the risk of developing premature arthritis symptoms. Obesity, especially in people over the age of 45, can lead to osteoarthritis. Anyone who has injured a joint or suffers from rheumatoid arthritis faces a higher risk of developing premature arthritis symptoms at a young age. Gout, a condition wherein the body produces too much uric acid, might also lead to degenerative disease of the affected joint.