Arthritis can be a debilitating disease. The general definition of arthritis is an inflammation of the joint tissue. Pain, stiffness, cracking and popping with movement are the general symptoms.
There are many different types of arthritis including:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Psoriatic Arthritis
- Septic Arthritis
Currently, the most commonly diagnosed forms of arthritis are osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. Let’s discuss some of the signs, symptoms and treatments for these most common types.
This type of arthritis is commonly called the “wear and tear” arthritis. It is a degenerative disorder of the joints and affects nearly 33 million Americans. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of chronic joint disorder. This type of arthritis is a condition that occurs from “overuse” of the joint. Overuse can differ in its definition from person to person. We all have different tolerances and osteoarthritis happens when our body decides that its joints have been used past their ability to hold up. This disorder appears most commonly in weight-bearing joints like the hips, feet, spine, and knees. This disorder lacks any other symptoms besides the pain in the affected joint.
The pain comes from the breakdown of the cartilage that normally cushions our joints and allowing the bones to rub together. When the bones rub, you may hear a grating sound. The bones can develop spurs that add to the pain. This is similar to the skin developing a scar to protect the damaged area.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a totally different animal from osteoarthritis. This type of arthritis is an auto-immune disorder. It is inflammation caused by the body attacking itself because it does not recognize its own tissue.Rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t just affect the joints. It can affect the rest of the body as well. This disease is a “hit and miss” disease in the way that it flares up at different times and in different areas of the body. Common symptoms involving the joints include:
- Stiffness for several hours – This is more than just being stiff in the morning. It is an extended condition of stiffness that can require a lot of stretching and activity before the joints will loosen up.
- Swelling – Fluid in the joint causes it to swell and appear puffy.
- Warmth and Redness – The inflammation brings more blood to the area in an attempt to heal it. This makes the area red and warm.
- Pain – The level of pain can differ with the amount of inflammation being experienced at the time.
This disease can flare up and have periods of remission in between. It affects areas of the body other than the joints with symptoms including the following:
- Muscle Aches
- Loss of appetite that can lead to weight loss
- Malaise ( a feeling of illness similar to the flu)
- Nodules under the skin – most commonly found on the elbows
- Inflammation of the lining of the lungs or the heart
All arthritis can be debilitating and treatment is limited to coping with the symptoms. Research is always being done to further treatment.