How Much Do You Really Know About Arthritis?
Arthritis is one of the most common issues that faces Americans today. A huge percentage of the population suffers from one form of arthritis or another as they age. Arthritis can range from a minor condition that causes some occasional pain to something far more malignant and chronic. Many people find their entire day affected and worsened by their cases of arthritis. Research into curing arthritis continues, but until a cure is discovered, arthritis will continue to be a problem for many.
One of the best things someone can do is educate themselves about arthritis. Education can help form the basis of any treatment plans. In addition, knowing about arthritis can help people do what they can to minimize the potential causes of arthritis and try to limit their scope of getting it in the first place.
Types of Arthritis
It’s good to recognize that not all types of arthritis are created equal. Arthritis actually has around 100 different types. These all have slightly different effects or causes. However, there are a few types which are by far the most common. These include:
- Osteoarthritis - This is by far the most common type of arthritis that people have. Osteoarthritis is typified by joint pain and is especially prevalent in weight bearing joints like a person’s hips, knees and feet. Unlike some other forms, osteoarthritis is a gradual build up. This is because the cartilage that usually keeps joints moving seamlessly slowly breaks down over time or from true excessive use.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis - This is the next most common type of arthritis, but has a very different cause. Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation around the joints and for some people, lumps on their skin over the joints. Typically, rheumatoid arthritis is one of the more severe forms in terms of pain.
- Psoriatic Arthritis - This is another form of arthritis, but only comes from people who also suffer from Psoriasis. This form of arthritis tends to start earlier in life than some of the other types. This form often causes severe swelling in the toes and in the fingers.
There are also other forms of arthritis like gout, lupus and many others. To go into every form would take hours of reading. The three types listed will cover the majority of arthritic cases.
Causes of Arthritis
Unsurprisingly, with so many different types of arthritis, there are going to be many different causes as well. Osteoarthritis is caused when the cartilage in joints wears away. But what causes that? Obesity is a very common cause. It forces the joints under more pressure than they ideally would like to be under. Age is also one of the most common reasons. Quite simply, the joints break down over time.
Rheumatoid arthritis is what’s known as an autoimmune disease. This means that the body’s immune system is actually attacking itself. The immune system incorrectly diagnoses the area around the joints as a threat, before attacking it. This causes the typical joint inflammation and pain. The exact cause of this immune reaction is currently debatable. Some doctors believe it’s the body reacting incorrectly after fighting off an infection.
There are several different treatment options for fighting off arthritis. Typically, these work to reduce the symptoms and slow the overall degeneration of the joints. The most common option is medication. There are a variety of drugs which may have different goals. Some work to reduce pain, others limit inflammation and some suppress the immune system. It depends on the type of arthritis in question.
Physical therapy is also a common option. There are many exercises which help maintain or increase a range of motion in a body. Strengthening the muscles around a joint can also help, as they will reduce the amount of stress placed on the joints.
Finally, in severe cases, there are some surgical treatment options which may be examined. These options focus on joints. They can be to repair a damaged joint by smoothing them or fixing alignments. They can be to completely replace a joint which is too damaged. There are also fusion surgeries, which can fuse the two ends of the joint together. This is common for fingers, ankles or in the wrist.
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