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The Facts And Details On Arthritis

May 22, 2008
More than 21 million Americans have osteoarthritis. Approximately 2.1 million Americans suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.

The causes of arthritis depend on the form of arthritis. Causes include injury (leading to degenerative arthritis), abnormal metabolism (such as gout and pseudogout), inheritance (such as in osteoarthritis), infections (such as in the arthritis of Lyme disease), and an overactive immune system (such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus). Treatment programs, when possible, are often directed toward the precise cause of the arthritis.

If joint pain, swelling, stiffness, redness, loss of motion or deformity occurs, medical evaluation by a health-care professional is warranted. Even minor joint symptoms that persist unexplained for over one week should be evaluated. For many forms of arthritis, it is essential that patients have an early evaluation as it is clear that this can both prevent damage and disability as well as make optimal treatment easier.

Arthritis is a joint disorder featuring inflammation. A joint is an area of the body where two bones meet. A joint functions to allow movement of the body parts it connects. Arthritis literally means inflammation of one or more joints. Arthritis is frequently accompanied by joint pain. Joint pain is referred to as arthralgia.

Arthritis is classified as one of the rheumatic diseases. These are conditions that are different individual illnesses, with differing features, treatments, complications, and prognosis. They are similar in that they have a tendency to affect the joints, muscles, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons, and many have the potential to affect internal body areas as well.

There are many forms of arthritis (over 100 have been described so far, and the number is growing). The forms range from those related to wear and tear of cartilage (such as osteoarthritis) to those associated with inflammation as a result of an overactive immune system (such as rheumatoid arthritis). Together, the many forms of arthritis make up the most common chronic illness in the United States.

For many patients with arthritis, mild pain relievers such as aspirin and acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be sufficient treatment. Studies have shown that acetaminophen given in adequate doses can often be equally as effective as prescription anti-inflammatory medications in relieving pain in osteoarthritis.

Since acetaminophen has fewer gastrointestinal side effects than NSAIDS, especially among elderly patients, acetaminophen is often the preferred initial drug given to patients with osteoarthritis. Pain-relieving creams applied to the skin over the joints can provide relief of minor arthritis pain. Examples include capsaicin, salycin, methyl salicylate, and menthol.

Arthritis sufferers include men and women, children and adults. Approximately 350 million people worldwide have arthritis. Over 40 million people in the United States are affected by arthritis, including over a quarter million children! More than half of those with arthritis are under 65 years of age. Nearly 60% of Americans with arthritis are women.

Symptoms of arthritis include pain and limited function of joints. Inflammation of the joints from arthritis is characterized by joint stiffness, swelling, redness, and warmth. Tenderness of the inflamed joint can be present. Loss of range of motion and deformity can result. Certain forms of arthritis can also be associated with pain and inflammation of tendons surrounding joints.

Some forms of arthritis are more of an annoyance than a serious medical problem. However, millions of people suffer daily with pain and disability from arthritis or its complications.

Moreover, many of the forms of arthritis, because they are rheumatic diseases, can cause symptoms affecting various organs of the body that do not directly involve the joints. Therefore, symptoms in some patients with certain forms of arthritis can also include fever, gland swelling, weight loss, fatigue, feeling unwell, and even symptoms from abnormalities of organs such as the lungs, heart, or kidneys.

The treatment of arthritis depends on which particular form of arthritis is present, its location, severity, persistence, and any underlying background medical conditions of the patient. Each treatment program must be customized for the individual patient.

Treatment programs can incorporate home remedies, nonprescription and prescription medications, joint injections, and surgical operations. Some treatment programs involve weight reduction and avoiding activities that exert excessive stress on the joint. The goal of treatment of arthritis is to reduce joint pain and inflammation while preventing damage and improving and maintaining joint function.

Not every person with arthritis requires medical attention. For example, some patients with osteoarthritis have minimal or no pain and may not need treatment. However, for those with persisting joint symptoms, the ideal steps to take should lead to a proper diagnosis and an optimal long-term treatment plan. This plan must be customized for each person affected, depending on the joints involved and the severity of symptoms.

Surgery is generally reserved for those patients with arthritis that is particularly severe and unresponsive to the conservative treatments. Surgical procedures can be performed to relieve pain, improve function, and correct deformity. Occasionally, joint tissue is surgically removed for the purpose of biopsy and diagnosis. Doctors who specialize in joint surgery are orthopedic surgeons.

Currently, prevention of arthritis focuses on avoiding joint injury and early diagnosis and treatment. Research clearly demonstrates that early diagnosis and treatment can result in less damage, deformity, disability, and even mortality in rheumatoid disease.

The treatment of rheumatoid disease is not only more effective but easier when administered early.
Additionally, maintaining overall good health and strength with exercise and good nutrition can be helpful in preventing joint disease.
About the Author
Jigfo.com is a global platform for sharing and learning knowledge. For more information on this article topics visit:
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http://arthritic.jigfo.com/
http://juvenileidiopathicarthritis.jigfo.com/
http://psoriaticarthritis.jigfo.com/
http://reactivearthritis.jigfo.com/
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