Arthritis affects more than forty million people and can range form the occasional twinge in a
finger to incapacitating whole body pain.
Listed below are some common forms of arthritis and related conditions:
Osteoarthritis, sometimes called degenerative joint disease, resulting when the cushioning cartilage in the joints break down, causing pain and stiffness. It is the most common type of arthritis, usually affecting people after the age of forty-five.
Rheumatoid arthritis, is an autoimmune disease that inflames the lining of the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is on of the most serious and disabling types of arthritis.
Fibromyalgia, is a chronic pain disorder that causes fatigue, sleep disturbances, and widespread pain in the muscles and tendons, particulary in the neck, spine, shoulders and hips. It affects mostly women.
Gout, is a painful condition that may attack both small and large joints, most often beginning in the in the big toe. Gout affects mostly men and postmenopausal women.
Lupus, is a serious autoimmune disorder that can inflame and damage joints and other connective tissues throughout the body. It affects mostly women.
Juvenile arthritis refers to all types of arthritis that affect children. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of juvenile arthritis along with other forms of lupus and ankylosing spondylitis, affecting children under the age of seventeen.
Other types of arthritis include infections of the joints(Infectious arthritis), fusing of the spine (ankylosing spondylitis) or a hardening of the skin and internal organs (scleroderma).
Researchers are unsure of what causes most kinds of arthritis. However, there are some known risk factors for some kinds of arthritis.
Some known risks for arthritis:
Being a women. Twice as many women as men get arthritis. Sometimes heredity. Some types of arthritis, including weakness in joints or bone, may be inherited. Repeated joint injuries or stresses. Sports or work activities can wear away cartilage in the joints.
Signs and symptoms:
Arthritis symptoms can vary from person to person. Swelling in one or more joints, especially with warmth and redness. Stiffness around the joints that lasts for at least one hour in the early morning. Constant or recurring pain or tenderness in a joint. Sudden difficulty using or moving a joint normally.
This is a joint disease of most people over the age of sixty-five. Around the age of forty-five, many people begin to show signs of cartilage damage in their joints. Eventually most will have some type of osteoarthritis. It is also called degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis.
Severity of this condition varies greatly. Sometimes it causes no more than mild aches and pains or it can be disabling. Those who have stressed their joints playing sports on the job may develop osteoarthritis earlier, or in a more severe form.
What happens in the joints:
The ends of the bones in the joints are covered by a material called cartilage that acts as a cushion and provides a smooth gliding surface for joint motion. Synovial fluid, made up of a substance called hyaluronic acid, lines the joints, acting as a shock absorber and lubricates the joints.
With age, cartilage begins to lose its flexibility and becomes more vulnerable to damage form overuse or injuries. How fast this can happen varies; families may pass along genes that cause cartilage to break down earlier. Injuries from playing sports or doing heavy labor, such as construction work, can also cause cartilage breakdown. Bones begin to thicken or change shape and joint space narrows, causing inflammation and pain. Sometimes bone comes in direct contact with other bone, causing pain and limited movement.
Some signs and symptoms:
Pain is the major symptom of osteoarthritis and cartilage loss. Some people also experience swelling and inflammation. Others may feel no pain.
Osteoarthritis usually affects the joints of the knees, hips, hands, neck and lower back. Sometimes the big toe or bony spurs on the fingers are included.