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Getting to Know Arthritis
Arthritis is a disease that affects the joints in the body; in the United States, more than fifty million men and women suffer from it. Although there are more than a hundred different kinds of arthritis, there are two that are considered the most common: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative form of arthritis. This means that it causes part of the joint to deteriorate, especially the cartilage. The cartilage covers the ends of the bones in the joint to keep them from rubbing together. When the cartilage starts to deteriorate, it can expose the bone.
Bones rubbing against one other causes severe pain in the joint, as well as achiness in the extremities.
Osteoarthritis is usually diagnosed in men and women around age 50. Although it is commonly known as an “old person’s disease” – age can indeed be a contributing factor for osteoarthritis – there are other factors that may contribute to the disease, such as previous trauma and genetics.
Some symptoms of osteoarthritis include swelling, pain, stiffness, and restricted movement. These symptoms are usually noticed in the morning, but subside as the day progresses and movement increases. Because the symptoms usually subside within thirty minutes of waking, they are often overlooked or excused.
Rheumatoid arthritis is also a slow progressing type of arthritis that can affect an individual at any age. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect a part of any joint, or the entire joint. It is considered an auto-immune disease, where the body attacks itself. In brief, the immune system produces antibodies that attack the tissue in the joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are similar to those of osteoarthritis, such as inflammation, pain, and stiffness. The symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis can be experienced any time of day and may be recur at any point throughout the day. Another characteristic symptom associated with rheumatoid arthritis is joints becoming deformed and/or bumpy, especially the hands and fingers.
Arthritis can hinder daily life for those it affects, as the pain it causes can stop them from doing their normal routine or activities. This can be very frustrating and cause some mental anguish; fatigue and depression are often associated with arthritis sufferers.
Although it isn’t talked about much, it is important for arthritis sufferers to have a support system in place. Friends and family can be very understanding and supportive, provided they are aware of and understand your condition. There are also support groups available in most areas.
Additionally, there are treatments available that can improve one’s quality of life when it comes to dealing with arthritis. Pain reducing medications, anti-inflammatory medications, NSAIDs, diet, exercise, corticosteroids, and physical therapies can all be helpful treatments that reduce the symptoms of arthritis. In treating rheumatoid arthritis, disease modifying drugs are also often used. Sometimes, in severe cases, a surgical procedure, such as joint fusion or replacement, may be necessary.
The best defense against arthritis and arthritis symptoms is to keep the body healthy with proper diet and exercise. If you experience any arthritis symptoms, seek the advise of a healthcare professional as soon as possible.