According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 46 million (or roughly 1 in 5) people suffer from arthritis or chronic joint symptoms. Arthritis causes pain, loss of movement and sometimes swelling and is the most common chronic condition. Arthritis is characterized by inflammation of the joints and may affect other parts of the body.
Common causes of arthritis include wear and tear on the bones and joint cartilage, most often when the body has too much weight to support. This can be caused by carrying heavy loads consistently for years but is more commonly a byproduct of being overweight.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease and is the most common form of arthritis. Three times as many women suffer from the disease than men. Osteoarthritis occurs when the covering on the ends of bones gradually wears away, becoming frayed and rough. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage to erode away. It typically develops due to many years of use and affects people middle-aged and older. Osteoarthritis targets hands and weight-bearing joints, such as knees, hips, feet and back.
Unlike osteoarthrits, this type of arthritis does not erode the cartilage slowly, rather it inflames the joint (usually many joints at one time) until the joints are ruined. Rheumatoid arthritis is most common in middle aged women, but can affect people of all ages.
Inflammation of the joints can occur when a small granual of sodium urate (related to gout) or calcium phosphorate (related to chondrocalsinosis) gets lodged in the joint. The effect is similar to getting a piece of sand trapped in your eye. It irritates the surrounding inflammation. Middle-aged men are most prone to this sort of arthritis.
Outlined below are some of the diagnostic tools that your physician may use to gain insight into your condition and determine the best treatment plan for your condition.
The type of arthritis present determines the treatment course for arthritis sufferers. Successful treatment is more likely with an accurate diagnosis. Treatments available include physical therapy, injection therapy, splinting, cold pack application, paraffin wax dips, anti-inflammatory medications, immune-altering medications as well as surgical operations.
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