Jokes about aging will sooner or later focus on arthritis. But for the millions of suffers, arthritis is no joking matter. In simple terms, arthritis is an inflammation of the joints –places where bones meet.
Arthritis is most often seen in people
over 65, although it can affect those younger, including teens. Women and those
who are overweight are more susceptible
to the disease.
There are two basic types of arthritis
– osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a reduction in joint cartilage,
the flexible connective tissues found in the joints
that help to absorb shock from movement. Symptoms of osteoarthritis can include
joint pain or stiffness, especially in the mornings, joint swelling, and a decrease in range of motion.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune
system attacks the tissues of the body. These attacks affect the synovium,
which secretes a fluid that nourishes the cartilage and lubricates the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis can eventually lead to the destruction of both bone and
cartilage inside the joint. The exact cause of the immune system’s attacks has
not yet been discovered, but scientists
have discovered genetic markers that can
increase your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is
more difficult to diagnosis because it can mimic other illnesses. Symptoms can
include a loss of appetite, anemia and a slight fever.
Diagnosis of both types of arthritis usually
begins with a physical exam that will look for a range of motion. In addition, your physician will feel around the
joints looking for swelling, and warm or red joints. If fluids are present, the
doctor may extract them to determine the kind of arthritis. This exam might
also include an X-ray, MRI or CT scan.
If your doctor diagnoses arthritis, he or she will prescribe
a treatment plan for you that can include medication, surgery, physical therapy
May is National Arthritis Awareness Month so use this time
to check with your medical providers and have them examine that painful,