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Arthritis: When Things Are Swell

Arthritis is one of the most debilitating conditions affecting mostly people over the age of 55. It doesn’t only affect that specific age group, but also a percentage of young adults. It’s not just a simple disease but a group of conditions that may cause damage not only to your bones but also to other organs in the body.

Different forms of arthritis manifest different symptoms. Common symptoms of arthritis include: persistent joint pain; tenderness in a joint which is aggravated by movement; inflammation indicated by joint swelling, stiffness, redness, and/or warmth; pain and stiffness in the body, especially around the joints; joint deformity; loss of range of motion or flexibility in a joint; unexplained weight loss; non-specific fever; and crepitus (weird crackling sound in the joints.)

There are over 100 different types of arthritis affect approximately 46 million Americans today. The three most common types are: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout.

Osteoarthritis is more commonly called as degenerative arthritis. This develops from a simple breakdown to an eventual loss of cartilages of one or joints. Cartilages are protein-based mass that serve as cushions in between joints. This type of arthritis usually attacks weight-bearing joints such as the hands, feet, and spine. It is mostly related to aging and it progresses further as the years pass. It usually occurs at the age range of 45-60. Men are at higher risk for osteoarthritis before age 45. Women, however, are more prone to it around age 55 specifically around the hand, foot and knee joints. Severe cases of degenerative arthritis require total joint replacement, mostly of the hip and knee joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis may also affect different joints, and as previously mentioned, it may affect some body organs and even our blood. It mainly affects the synovial lining of the joint. The synovium is a soft tissue that lines the non-cartilaginous surfaces within joints. This issue comes as a secondary effect of infections. In this case, the body’s autoimmune system malfunctions and attacks healthy joint tissue, causing inflammation and joint damage. Although it is not as degenerative as osteoarthritis, it may cause joint deformity in a mild level.

Gout is caused by displacement of uric acid crystal to the joints. Also known as hyperuricemia, which literally translates high uric acid content in the blood, it is a metabolic ailment wherein uric acid builds up in the blood and crystallize in the joints of other parts of the body. Chronic gout attacks may lead to hard lumps of uric acid deposits around the joints, and in the process decrease kidney functions and form kidney stones.

There are different kinds of treatment for the different forms of arthritis. There are medications available that aid in arthritis pain relief. Antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used as relieve pain and decrease inflammation on affected areas. It has to be paired with constant visits to a physical or occupational therapist to ensure that mobility and range of motion is maintained.

Regular exercise can help keep joints flexible. Swimming and water aerobics may be good choices because the buoyancy of the water reduces stress on weight-bearing joints. Heat and cold. Heating pads or ice packs may help relieve arthritis pain

Arthritis isn’t just a simple joint pain that we can disregard. The pain alone is difficult to ignore, let alone the complications it will bring if it remains untreated. Nobody is safe from getting arthritis as there are forms that have causes yet to be defined. Bottom line is, take care of your body – be mindful of your diet and exercise constantly. You’ll never know when this sneaky disease will catch up with you.

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