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Arthropathy is a blanket term that is used to refer to diseases of the joints. There are a number of different forms with a variety of causes that require different approaches to treatment. These conditions can be quite painful, and they usually require treatment to inhibit further degeneration of the joint. Staying active and eating a balanced diet can help to reduce the risk of joint diseases and other illnesses.
The symptoms of arthropathy vary, depending on the root cause. In many cases, patients feel pain around their joints, which may also feel somewhat stiff. In the case of neuropathic arthropathy, however, these symptoms are reversed, with patients experiencing a loss of sensation around the joint due to nerve damage. People with certain illnesses and over a certain age are at an increased risk of diseased joints, and their healthcare providers will usually keep an eye on their joint health for this very reason, checking for signs of problems regularly.
Another common form is crystal arthropathy, which involves the deposition of crystals into the joint. This form is associated with gout, a painful condition in which crystals of uric acid accumulate in certain joints of the patient. Patients with diabetes are also at risk of related joint diseases, as are patients with irritable bowel disease.
In addition to being caused by an ongoing medical problem, arthropathy can also be the result of an infection or inflammation of the joint, or latent infection somewhere in the body. This is known as reactive arthropathy, and like all infections, it requires treatment to ensure that it does not spread. This condition can be caused by a malfunction of the immune system as it responds to an infection elsewhere in the body, and joint problems with no known cause may be a signal of an infection that requires attention.
Facet arthropathy results in back pain, and is caused as the facet joints of the back experience degeneration and inflammation. This condition can be extremely uncomfortable, often requiring a period of rest and the use of multiple medications to try to reduce the inflammation and associated pain. In extreme cases, this condition may require surgical treatment.