Arthritis
Last Edited: April 10th, 2012

Coupons for Arthritis

Arthritis

While most of know the term arthritis, most of us don’t know that this all-inclusive term actually includes more than 100 diseases and conditions that affect joints, the surrounding tissues and other connective tissues. According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis can cause mild to severe pain in the joints, as well as joint tenderness and swelling. Approximately 46 million Americans have some type of arthritis or related condition. The various forms of arthritis and related conditions can affect anyone, regardless of their race, gender or age.

Types

There are three main types of arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and juvenile arthritis. While all three of these sub types have their own causes and onset, many of the symptoms are similar, such as pain in the joints or connective tissue.

Rheumatoid arthritis or RA, is a form of inflammatory arthritis and an autoimmune disease. According to the Arthritis Foundation, in rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, specifically the synovium, a thin membrane that lines the joints. As a result of the attack, fluid builds up in the joints, causing pain and inflammation throughout the body.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease, but can be managed through proper treatment and therapeutic modalities. According to the Arthritis Foundation, n the case of patients with RA, the incidence of heart disease is much higher. RA is actually a separate risk factor for heart disease just like high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease or OA, is the most common form of arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Of the nearly 27 million Americans who have osteoarthritis approximately 16 million are women. Women usually develop OA after age 40. It causes damage to cartilage and bones, causing joint pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function.

Juvenile arthritis refers to a number of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can develop in children ages 16 and younger. There is no known cause for the various types of juvenile arthritis, but the Arthritis Foundation disputes that onset is caused by allergies, toxins or certain kinds of food. According to the foundation, approximately 300,000 American children have some form of juvenile arthritis.

Symptoms

Symptoms of arthritis can vary from type to type and for person to person, but the most common symptoms of arthritis are stiffness and pain in the joints and tendons and inflammation around such areas. Symptoms can become severe enough that mobility is significantly reduced and quality of life is also very disrupted.

Causes

Arthritis is caused by damage to the joint. All joints are made up of cartilage, joint capsule and synovium, which is a thin membrane that helps to keep the joint lubricated.

Damage to the joint happens when either the wear and tear of the cartilage or the removal of cartilage causes the bone to abrade against bone. This causes osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused when the immune system attacks the synovium of the joint. This at some point causes the cartilage and joint to be destroyed.

Risk factors

Risk factors for arthritis including the following:

  • Family history
  • Age
  • Previous joint injury
  • Being overweight
  • Being female

Treatment

Treatment for arthritis depends upon the type and severity of the symptoms. The most common treatment includes medication, like anti-inflammatories, analgesics and corticosteroids, as well as physical therapy, certain kinds of exercise, like yoga or tai chi and in severe cases, surgery.

Other ways to manage the symptoms of arthritis or to prevent their worsening include losing weight, using assistive devices like canes or walkers, acupuncture, massage, nerve simulation, and taking certain supplements like glucosamine. Like with any medication or treatment plan, always work with a medical provider before starting any regimen to control your arthritis.