What is Arthritis?

arthritisWhat is Arthritis?

Arthritis is very common. There are more than 3 million cases of arthritis per year in the United States. The term “arthritis” literally means “joint inflammation,” but it is an umbrella term that refers to a multitude of joint-related diseases. People who have a form of arthritis usually feel very uncomfortable pain. There are more than one hundred different types of arthritis, and their causes can be very complex. For instance, researchers who study rheumatoid arthritis, a condition when the body’s immune system attacks its own joints, have suggested that it may be linked to the bacterial flora naturally present in the human gut.[1] There is not one simple way to define arthritis or someone’s experience with it since it has consequences for other parts of the body, as well. For example, even though arthritis is commonly characterized by joint pain, it can also affect the heart, lungs, and the eyes.

Types of Arthritis and Symptoms

There are common symptoms of arthritis which include:

  • Pain in joints
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Decreased mobility

Some common types of arthritis are:

  • Osteoarthritis: This is when the cartilage at the end of individual bones wear away, and bone begins to rub up against another bone.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: An autoimmune disorder that attacks the joints and can also have an effect on other areas of the body like your blood vessels and eyes.
  • Infectious arthritis: This can be caused by certain organisms that infect your body like salmonella, chlamydia, and hepatitis C.
  • Metabolic arthritis: This is caused by the inability to digest uric acid quickly enough which eventually contributes to the build-up of crystals in joints, causing sharp pains.
  • Fibromyalgia: This is a kind of arthritis is attributed to the way the brain and spinal cord process pain. People with Fibromyalgia may experience pain more drastically than others because of the way their brain and nerves process certain sensations.
  • Back and other musculoskeletal pain: These can be caused for various reasons including injury or overuse. It is also possible that these types of pain can be caused by the forms of arthritis outline above. [2]

Depending on the kind of arthritis you have, there are several ways to alleviate symptoms. The most important step would be to see a medical professional, like an orthopedic doctor, to determine what kind of arthritis it is. Common forms of treatment include weight loss, exercise, stretching, medication, and sometimes surgery.

If you are someone who may need caregiving services because of arthritis-related conditions, then call ElderCare at Home at 800-285-0093 or visit our website to find out more.

[1] Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/01/joint-pain-from-the-gut/383772/

[2] Source: http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/pain-management/understanding/types-of-pain.php

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