Gold Member Badge


  • You're all caught up!

How Does Arthritis Affect the Skeletal System?

author image Adam Cloe Ph.D./M.D.
Adam Cloe has been published in various scientific journals, including the "Journal of Biochemistry." He is currently a pathology resident at the University of Chicago. Cloe holds a Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry from Boston University, a M.D. from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in pathology from the University of Chicago.
How Does Arthritis Affect the Skeletal System?
An elderly woman's arthritic hands. Photo Credit: Giulio Fornasar/iStock/Getty Images


There are several different kinds of arthritis, though they all involve problems with the joints. Osteoarthritis is the result of natural wear and tear on joints. It typically affects joints that support weight or are frequently used. Another form of arthritis is called post-traumatic arthritis and is the result of trauma to the joint. Finally, rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the immune system attacking the tissue in the joint. This form of arthritis can affect any joint in the body and usually leads to redness, swelling and tenderness in the joint.

Effects on Joints

Joints are areas in the body where multiple bones come in close contact with each other. In order to protect the bones, joints typically have both cartilage and a protective fluid called synovium. In patients with arthritis, the cartilage and the synovium can become damaged. Sometimes this is a result of wear and tear on the cartilage. Other times the cartilage can be physically torn off by sudden stress. The cartilage can also be killed off by the immune system, which can also invade the synovium and fill it with white blood cells. Regardless, all kinds of arthritis lead to pain and decreased motion in the joint.

Arthritis and the Skeletal System

The cartilage and synovium in the joint works to protect the bones in the joint from making direct contact with each other. When there is bone-on-bone contact, the bones can become damaged due to friction. The friction can cause pain and additional swelling in the joint, and it can also lead to small bony growths called bone spurs. Bone spurs develop because stress and friction on bones causes more bone to be made to reinforce the site of stress. However, these bone growths may only increase the friction between bones and lead to additional joint damage.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
Lose Weight. Feel Great! Change your life with MyPlate by LIVESTRONG.COM
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.


Demand Media