For many people, it’s helpful to understand more about Arthritis, an underlying cause of joint paint and deterioration.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is the number one cause of chronic disability in the United States. Affecting nearly 40 million Americans, it refers to more than 100 diseases that cause pain, stiffness and swelling from the inflammation of a joint or the area around joints.
Are there different types of arthritis?
Yes. Osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a noninflammatory degenerative joint disease characterized by the breakdown of the joint’s cartilage.
It affects an estimated 21 million people in the United States and is characterized by mild to debilitating pain in the hands and joints such as knees, hips, feet and back. According to the Arthritis Foundation, the disease is most prevalent among individuals 45 years of age and older. Women are more prone to the disease.
When the joint cartilage is broken down by the disease, it removes the buffer between bones. The resulting bone-against-bone friction causes pain and eventual loss of movement. Symptoms include joint pain or aching (often after exercise or extended periods of pressure on weight-bearing joints) and limited or eventual loss of range of motion.
How do you get Osteoarthritis?
The exact cause of osteoarthritis is unknown. There are a wide array of factors that are known to contribute to the development and progression of the disease, including aging, obesity, joint injuries (sports, work or accidents), and genetics.
How do patients find out if they have Osteoarthritis?
An individual must seek the diagnosis of a physician. After a physical examination and full detailing of symptoms have been discussed, the physician may also recommend X-rays to confirm presence of the disease.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is the second most common type of arthritis, affecting 3.7 million Americans, mostly women; 70 to 90 percent of people who develop this disease are women aged 20 to 50.
Fibromyalgia is a disease involving pain in muscles or joints with no clinical signs of infection. It is often misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome, and usually does not require surgery.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
In some types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, the synovium becomes inflamed. This inflammation causes chemicals to be released that thicken the synovium and damage the cartilage and bone of the affected joint. This leads to inflammation of the synovium , which then causes pain and swelling.
What causes arthritis?
The causes of the 100 types of arthritis are unknown. Because there are so many different forms of arthritis, the causes are likely to vary. Scientists are currently examining factors such as genetics and lifestyle affect the development of arthritis.
What changes occur in the cartilage of an arthritic hip?
In a healthy hip, cartilage cushions the area surrounding the hip ball and socket to allow easy movement without pain. In an unhealthy hip, the cartilage is damaged or worn away causing pain from bones rubbing and grinding together.
What changes occur in the cartilage of an arthritic knee?
In a healthy knee, cartilage protects and cushions bone surfaces that come together at the joint. This allows bones to move without friction. In an unhealthy knee, cartilage is damaged or worn away, causing pain from bones rubbing together.
What are some of the symptoms of arthritis?
Pain from arthritis can be continuous or intermittent. Pain may occur after activity or exercise but it may also happen even if you’ve been resting and still for a period of time. Pain may be concentrated in one spot or you may feel it all over your body. Joints may feel stiff and difficult to move. Daily chores such as climbing stairs and opening cans may become a challenge. You may notice that pain is more severe during certain times of the day or after performing certain tasks.
Some kinds of arthritis cause swelling or inflammation. The skin over the joint may appear swollen and red, and feel hot when touched. Arthritis may also cause fatigue.
How can I know if I have arthritis?
Early diagnosis and treatment tailored to your needs are crucial in slowing or preventing damage to joints. Only a physician can determine if you have arthritis and what type it is. Arthritis is diagnosed based on the overall pattern of symptoms, medical history, physical exam, X-rays and lab tests.
The websites of the Arthritis Foundation (www.arthritis.org) and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (www.aaos.org) contain many informative articles.