Arthritis - The Basics
Arthritis is a condition that affects large numbers of people throughout the world. While many folk often think that arthritis is a single disease, there are actually a large number of different medical conditions that are routinely referred to as arthritis. Arthritis literally means joint inflammation and the symptoms typically include painful,stiff and swollen joints.
Two of the commonest forms of arthritis are known as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is often referred to as degenerative joint disease which begins with the breakdown of joint cartilage. Osteoarthritis is most often found in the fingers, knees, hips or the spine, and sufferers experience symptoms of pain, tenderness, decreased functionality and swelling of the joints involved. The risk of developing osteoarthritis increases with age, and the condition usually debilitates over time. People whose work involves constant bending, kneeling or squatting are at a greater risk.
Rheumatoid arthritis exhibits some of the same symptoms as osteoarthritis but is a distinct disease that affects the joints in a different way. It is a disease in which the human immune system mistakes the cell linings of the affected joint as an invader, and attacks them. It’s a chronic disease that can potentially cause a complete disability of the affected joint, and those with rheumatoid arthritis often face symptoms of joint pain, stiffness, loss of function and a swelling of the afflicted area.
There are many other types of arthritis, including juvenile arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, fibromyalgia, gout, pseudogout, and scleroderma. These different variations of the disease can be caused by numerous factors, and they all relate to inflammation of a joint in one way or another. The treatments used to aid these diseases vary according to the type of arthritis involved. In addition, different degrees of severity of the diseases merit different types of treatment. With over two hundred different types of arthritis, there is not space to discuss all of them in a short article. Medicine, physiotherapy, exercise programs, and surgery are all treatment options for various types of arthritis.
Various techniques are employed in carrying out a clinical diagnosis for arthritis. Doctors often employ the use of blood and urine tests in addition to reviewing the patient's medical history and family history of arthritis when diagnosing the disease. X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging may also be called upon to aid diagnosis of the disease. Arthritis is a disease that is quite unpredictable; those who are afflicted with it often experience little trouble with the disease for an extended period of time, and then experience completely unexpected ‘flares’ of pain. For that reason, when arthritis is diagnosed, doctors often set up a treatment plan based on the pain experiences that the patient has experienced over a long period of time. Just because the disease may have tapered off for a little while does NOT mean that the problem is disappearing. Arthritic pain ebbs and flows, and it’s important to realize that even small amounts of pain should be properly treated. If you suspect that you may have arthritis, it’s important to speak to your doctor to discuss possible treatments.
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