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.
Yes. Osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis affecting about 16 million Americans, usually middle-aged and older people. This is a noninflammatory degenerative joint disease characterized by the breakdown of the joint’s cartilage.
Osteoarthritis 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.
A degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis is one of the oldest and most common forms of arthritis. The disease causes cartilage breakdown found in joints. This breakdown removes the buffer between bones and 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 causing pain and swelling.
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 how the roles of major factors including genetics and lifestyles affect the development of arthritis.
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.
In a healthy knee, cartilage protects and cushions bone surfaces that come together at the joint allowing bones to move without friction. In an unhealthy knee, cartilage is damaged or worn away causing pain from bones rubbing together.
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.
Early diagnosis and treatment tailored to an individual’s 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 Arthritis Foundation (www.arthritis.org) and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (www.aaos.org) web sites contain many articles and patient education information that you may find helpful as well. You can also find information at https://www.flexablehealth.com.