Take the 2-minute tour ×
Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. It's 100% free, no registration required.

If osteoarthritis (osteoarthrosis) is a degenerative condition, where the cartilage in joints wears down, what causes the joints to become inflamed? I'm reading through a book called Understanding Disease: Arthritis by Steven Tiger, and it mentions that Heberden's nodes are caused by osteoarthrosis. if things inside the joint are wearing down, why does it get bigger?

share|improve this question
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Osteoarthritis results from the gradual degradation of articular cartilage. When the cartilage is damaged extensively, e.g., all the way through the cartilage and into the bone, an inflammatory response ensues in the bone. This often happens when bone is rubbing against bone.

One of bone's responses to injury and inflammation is the production of new bone. In this case, the bone, called osteophytes or bone spurs, is produced pathologically (i.e., not like the bone laid down normally during growth). Heberden's nodes are the names given to these osteophytes at the distal interphalangeal joints, but the process is basically the same at other joints in the digits, ankle, etc.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.