ARTHRITIS OVERVIEW


Arthritis literally means “joint inflammation”. Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints in the body, and is usually accompanied by pain and stiffness, which gets worse on waking up in the morning or after exercise. There may also be swelling, deformation of joints and skin around the joints, or a diminished range of motion. Arthritis really refers to a group of more than one hundred rheumatic diseases and conditions that can cause pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints.

The most common types of arthritis:

  1. Osteoarthritis
  2. Rheumatoid arthritis

1. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common kind of arthritis, and could arise as a primary or secondary disorder due to other joint malfunctions. It is a joint disease caused by “wear and tear” and can affect bone, cartilage, synovium and joint capsule, with secondary affects on the muscle. Healthy cartilage -- the firm, rubbery tissue that cushions bones at joints -- allows bones to glide over one another, while cartilage absorbs energy from the physical movement.

In OA (osteoarthritis), cartilage breaks down and wears away. As a result, the bones rub together causing pain, swelling, and stiffness. OA may also limit the range of motion in affected joints. Most often, OA develops in the hands, knees, hips, and spine.

Both men and women get OA about equally. It is a common condition, especially as you get older. Symptoms tend to show up when people are in their 50s and 60s, although an injury to a joint or overuse (such as some athletes might experience) can cause OA at an earlier age. More than 20 million people in the North America have osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is an important component of occupational joint disease- e.g. osteoarthritis of the knee is professional athletes and runners and osteoarthritis of the fingers in typists.

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