Today, there are approximately 70 million Americans with arthritis … is one of four people who suffer the pain and burden of this debilitating disease. In just one year, arthritis is the cause of more than half a billion dollars in lost wages. The economic consequences of arthritis is important to review each year due to arthritis has devastating financial impact on our society.
In ten years, the job loss associated with arthritis has been associated with a decrease of 37% of revenues for arthritis – all without arthritis had a 90% increase in revenue over the same period!
If … a friend … or relative has arthritis, it is important to know that early treatment can help people with their daily lives and continue to be productive members of the community.
The term “arthritis” is derived from the Greek “arthron” meaning “common” which means inflammation and “itis”. Arthritis is a word that describes over 100 different conditions, some involving inflammation and others do not.
Arthritis is not a single disease. It encompasses about 100 different conditions that affect joints and that pose special problems for diagnosis and treatment.
Some types of arthritis include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, pseudo gout, ankylosing spondylitis, polymyalgia rheumatica, psoriatic arthritis, Reiter’s disease, systemic lupus erythematosus and fibromyalgia.
Most types of arthritis, involving inflammation of the joints. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection.
For an example of inflammation, take a scratch … the body releases chemicals that cause fluids accumulate automatically and white blood cells to gather around the area of the scratch. As your body fights off foreign substances and bacteria, inflammation … redness … heat … swelling and pain … occur in view of the lesion.
In arthritis, unfortunately, this natural defense mechanism goes wrong. Elements of the blood to combat infection and wound repair attack the body in place.
And, unless this inflammatory process is stopped, it will continue to attack the body and cause joint destruction.
So you can begin to see how the treatments alleviate pain associated with arthritis – but that does not reduce inflammation – can not adequately address this disease.
Get the right treatment early on is important … because proper care can help people with arthritis to live a more active and comfortable.
However, many people with arthritis delay going to a doctor. Or are afraid to go to a doctor or think that nothing can be done for arthritis. Other reasons include the idea that all drugs are harmful or arthritis Arthritis is a normal part of aging.
Some people try unproven remedies also delay diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Since arthritis can evolve gradually, people often ignore the first symptoms or signs. These include persistent pain, pain or swelling in one or more joints … symptoms should not be dismissed as signs of aging.
Other warning signs are pain and stiffness … especially when they occur in the morning.
Back pain is one of the first symptoms of arthritis. For people over 60, arthritis is the most common cause of low back pain.
The activity of arthritis varies unpredictably. The symptoms are cyclical and seems to come and go.
Therefore, it is important to remember that the signs and symptoms of arthritis that lasts more than six weeks – no matter how mild – should be checked by a doctor. And if the symptoms are severe, even wait six weeks may be too long.
The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The joint inflammation is implicated in both.
But these types of arthritis differ in terms of … age of patients affected … Affected joints … stiffness model … and potential disability.
Nearly 16 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis – the most common form of arthritis. Although osteoarthritis can occur at any age, it most often begins in people between 50 and 60.
Osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease is a disorder of cartilage – the cartilage covers the ends of long bones. Cartilage is composed of cells called chondrocytes that sit within a framework of collagen and proteoglyens. In normal conditions, the chondrocytes produce collagen and proteoglycens – in other works – sitting inside. With osteoarthritis, chondrocytes behave abnormally and start making destructive enzymes such as collagenasese, stromelysin and others. These enzymes degrade cartilage … These enzymes also attract inflammatory cells that secrete substances called cytokines that cause inflammation and further damage to the cartilage, subchondral bone and coating together.
This process results in a progressive stiffness pain and loss of function.
The pain and stiffness are the most visible symptoms of osteoarthritis. Morning stiffness is usually brief lasting less than 15 minutes. Osteoarthritis usually affects the areas around the neck, lower back, hips and knees.
It can also affect the fingers and hands and bony protrusions may appear in the joints of the fingers. The base of the thumb may also be affected. The typical model of osteoarthritis in the hands is the distal and proximal interphalangeal joint (DIP and PIP) and finger carpometacarpal (CMC) joint of the thumb.
Osteoarthritis is considered a degenerative joint disease. With inflammation, there is no wear on the inside of the joint.
This causes damage to cartilage (the substance which forms the joint surface and acts as a shock absorber). As the cartilage wears away, the underlying bone is damaged. This process results in a progressive stiffness pain and loss of function.
Osteoarthritis need not be debilitating and appropriate medical care can be managed easily.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the second most common type of arthritis. It is more common in women and affects 7 million Americans … or one in five patients with arthritis. It can affect any age group, although the look is more common in middle age.
Rheumatoid arthritis is usually characterized by heat, swelling and pain in several joints on both the left and right sides of the body, including the hands, wrists, elbows, hips, knees, ankles and feet. Spinal disease also occurs occasionally.
The typical pattern of rheumatoid arthritis in hands involves proximal interphalangeal (PIP), the metacarpal phalangeal (MCP) joints, wrists and elbows.
Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis can affect the entire body. People with this disease may feel bad everywhere … tire easily … lose their appetite … and lose weight.
In rheumatoid arthritis, the tissue that surrounds and nourishes the joints are attacked by the body’s immune system. The body mistakenly believes its own tissues as foreign, and responds by sending special white blood cells and toxic chemicals called cytokines to destroy the foreign material. (Cytokines abnormalities that cause damage in rheumatoid arthritis are different abnormalities in osteoarthritis.) This process of leukocyte migration and cytokine release damaging the seal.
Although we do not know the cause of rheumatoid arthritis, researchers are studying several possibilities.
Another interesting point about rheumatoid arthritis is that this disease can affect internal organs such as the lungs, skin, blood vessels, spleen, heart and muscles.
If rheumatoid arthritis is not well controlled, can irreversibly damage the joints and leads to severe disability.
To diagnose rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatologist establishes the presence of joint pain and swelling that lasts at least six weeks, and then looks for signs of disease progression that are characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis.
There also using blood tests in the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis have a series of attacks followed by a period where there is mild or no symptoms. Usually, the pain and disability of rheumatoid arthritis inching.
Morning stiffness usually lasts over an hour and a half can take several hours depending on the severity of the condition.
Most forms of arthritis persist for the life of the patient. Drugs in general, can not reverse the damage to bone and soft tissue caused by arthritis.
However, new methods of measurement of inflammation and response to drugs and other treatments to provide valuable information for physicians … and can help assess patient discomfort arthritis.
MRI is one such technique. This process using the effects of strong magnets which water molecules are refined to provide images of the body. MRI is used to diagnose and assess the extent of damage in the joints of patients with arthritis. It is also useful to evaluate the effect of new drugs.
Although there is no cure for arthritis, proper treatment can help immensely. The goal of treatment is to relieve arthritis pain and stiffness due to the destruction caused by progressive inflammation and to maintain or increase freedom of movement.
Among the advances that have occurred in the medical treatment of arthritis are different disease modifying drugs not only relieve symptoms, but also help slow the progression of the disease.
Other developments include several drugs sparing growth plate cartilage, drugs and biological resources. These drugs act by blocking destructive enzymes such as metalloproteinases in osteoarthritis and cytokines in rheumatoid arthritis. Targeting specific processes, relief of symptoms and healing of damage can occur with probably fewer side effects.
What can you do if you think you have arthritis?
First, consult your doctor. This is important because medical issues are complicated and your doctor that understands your health needs, you can prescribe the best treatment for you.
The kind of doctor who can best evaluate the arthritis is called a rheumatologist. These are doctors who have completed four years of medical school, three years of residency in internal medicine and rheumatology fellowship three years.
Although arthritis can be a serious disease that can progress to cause disability, science has developed new solutions for people with arthritis. Now is the arthritis sufferer to recognize the early signs and symptoms and to see a rheumatologist. With proper medical care, the course of this debilitating disease can change and people can help them return to a fully active life – without debilitating pain and disability.