August 11, 2014
Understanding Arthritis: It Comes In Many Forms
Rayshell Clapper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Arthritis is a very painful inflammation of one or more of a person’s joints. It can simply be a dull, annoying ache, but arthritis may cause severe to debilitating pain. Many people suffer from different types of arthritis. To better understand arthritis, it is important to understand the common types that are regularly diagnosed. Medline Plus, a project supported by the National Institutes of Health, shows five major common types of arthritis: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, infections arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and gout.Osteoarthritis
As the most common form of arthritis, it is most important to understand osteoarthritis. Medline Plus explains that osteoarthritis, “causes pain, swelling, and reduced motion in your joints. It can occur in any joint, but usually it affects your hands, knees, hips or spine.” There are three main risk factors to a diagnosis of osteoarthritis: being overweight, getting older, and injuring a joint. Two of those three we can control, so here is yet another reason to watch our weight and to take care of our bodies. Though this is not necessarily something doctors can cure, those afflicted with osteoarthritis may undergo treatments including exercise, medicines, and possibly surgery.
The second most common form of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. This is a form of autoimmune arthritis whereby the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells by mistake. In this case, the immune system causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function by attacking the joints. The most common joints attacked are the wrists and fingers. Medline Plus states, “More women than men get rheumatoid arthritis. It often starts in middle age and is most common in older people.” Besides being an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis differs from osteoarthritis in that it can attack other body parts like the eyes, mouth, and lungs. The treatments for this autoimmune disease include medicine, lifestyle changes, and surgery.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can only be managed, but in many cases infectious arthritis can be cured through medicine or surgery.
Infectious arthritis differs from many other types of arthritis in that it is an infection in the joint caused by a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection that spreads from another part of the body. As listed by Medline Plus, the symptoms of infectious arthritis include the following:
• Intense pain in the joint
• Joint redness and swelling
• Chills and fever
• Inability to move the area with the infected joint
For those who have psoriasis, they may also develop psoriatic arthritis, both of which are autoimmune disorders. Psoriasis is the skin disease causing itchy or sore patches of skin that are red with silvery scales. For those suffering from psoriasis, the pain of these outbreaks is excruciating and even embarrassing sometimes. However, some people experience a harsher pain when their psoriasis develops into psoriatic arthritis. Like other forms of arthritis, psoriatic arthritis causes pain, stiffness, and swelling of the joints. For those with severe cases, psoriatic arthritis is debilitating. And with no cure, this form of arthritis can be heartbreaking. However, there are medicines available to help treat it. In rare but extreme cases, one may need surgery to repair or replace joints damaged by psoriatic arthritis.
The fifth most common type of arthritis is gout. It is common and painful but preventable and pretty easy to cure. Gout causes swollen, red, hot, and stiff joints often first attacking the big toe. Gout can attack other joints as well including ankles, heels, knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows. Medline Plus says, “Gout happens when uric acid builds up in your body. Uric acid comes from the breakdown of substances called purines. Purines are in your body's tissues and in foods, such as liver, dried beans and peas, and anchovies.” Watching what we eat and properly exercising can help to prevent gout in the first place, but there are several factors that make one more likely to get gout:
• Being a man
• Having a family member with gout
• Being overweight
• Drinking alcohol
• Eating too many foods rich in purines
Treatment for gout does not require medicines and, in fact, focuses mostly on lifestyle changes such as eating balanced meals high in fruits and vegetables but low in purine-rich foods.
Arthritis is a disease that can cause such severe pain that it restricts what people can do in their daily lives. In extreme cases, even getting out of bed can be too painful. On top of that, there are over 100 arthritis conditions, disorders, and diseases according to the Arthritis Foundation. Staying active and eating right are two great ways to prevent and control arthritis. Knowing about the common forms of arthritis can help us to know what to do to prevent them.