In this Part 1 of 3 series, you will find information on the two most common forms of arthritis, namely osteoarthritis arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
All 3 series will be delivered during the month of April 2015.
Part 1 – The Two Most Common Forms of Arthritis
I’m sure everyone of us either knows someone who has arthritis or has at least heard of this disease. Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more of your joints, and the same word is used to describe over 100 different conditions and diseases that affect joints, tissues around joints, as well as other connective tissues.
“But I’m not that old so I can’t have arthritis!” Although it’s common that adults 65 and older are affected by arthritis, it can affect people of all ages, ethnic groups, and races. A shocking statistic shows that approximately 1 out of 5 adults in the United States have been diagnosed with some type of arthritis. With that said, here are few of the most important things you should know about arthritis.
What are the most common types of Arthritis that people generally suffer from?
There are two common forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
1. Osteoarthritis arthritis
This is the most common form of arthritis in the world. Often referred to as “wear and tear arthritis,” osteoarthritis (OA) affects approximately 27 million people in just USA. It is also sometimes called degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease generally affecting people older than 65.
What does osteoarthritis do?
Osteoarthritis breaks downs the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones. This important cartilage is what forms a joint and allows movement. Over time as the cartilage degenerates, the bones tend to become exposed with no cartilage present to protect the ends of the bones. Consequently, bones rub against each other. This deterioration of cartilage affects the shape of the joint so that it no longer functions as it should.
In addition, there are other problems that may take place in the joint itself. The breakdown of cartilage can affect the joint components. This is where fragments of cartilage or bone may float in the joint fluid, causing not only irritation but pain as well.
Osteophytes, or spurs, can develop at the ends of the bones. This damages the tissues that surround the bones also causing pain. Hyaluronan, a substance found in the fluid that is inside the joint, might affect the ability of the joint to absorb shock. To make matters worse, inflammation may also occur in the lining of the joint, due to the cartilage breakdown.
2. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is similar to osteoarthritis, for the reason that they both affect the joints. But the difference is that RA is a disease that is autoimmune in nature. This is where the immune system of the body, which is normally supposed to protect our bodies from infection by attacking viruses and bacteria, attacks the healthy tissues of the joint, causing inflammation of the lining of the joint. As of writing this, no one fully understands why it happens, but for some reason rheumatoid arthritis causes the immune system to go haywire and attacks healthy cells such as the synovium.
Snovium is a very important thin membrane that lines the joints. This attack causes fluid buildup in the joints, which can cause pain, stiffness, inflammation and redness. Over time, the cartilage wears away, the joint loses its shape, and bones erode, affecting not only function but mobility as well. Because of this, the inflammation then affects organs such as the skin, eyes, blood, heart, and lungs. RA is an ongoing disease, with flares (active periods of pain and inflammation) that disappears and reappears randomly.
What does rheumatoid arthritis affect?
Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects the joints of the hands, wrists, elbows, knees, feet, and ankles. If one joint gets affected then the same joint on the other side or opposite side of the body is affected as well.
As far as I know, no single laboratory test that can confirm a diagnosis of RA. If your doctor suspects you might have rheumatoid arthritis, the first thing he will do is study your medical history and gather specific information about your symptoms. Some of the questions that my doctor asked me include: Do you have pain in several joints? Do you experience stiffness in the morning? Are you often fatigued? The doctor will then give you a physical exam looking for swelling, warmth, tenderness, limited motion in your joints, or nodules under the skin.
Currently, this disease has no cure and the symptoms often come and go. If your doctor has diagnosed you with RA, you are not alone. This disease affects approximately 1.5 million people in just the United States. In addition, women are three times more likely to suffer from this disease than men are. Although it can begin at any age, even as a child, the usual age for adults are between the ages of 40 and 60 years old.