Arthritis is not a single disease. The term “arthritis” covers more than hundred diseases and conditions affecting joints, the surrounding tissues, and other connective tissues.

It includes:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Gout
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Juvenile (children) rheumatoid arthritis
  • Bursitis
  • Lyme arthritis,
  • Carpal tunnel disease and other disorders

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and the most frequent joint disorder especially in seniors. Arthritis is a common disease. As the population ages, it is expected to affect an estimated 67 million adults in the United States, alone, by 2030.

Definition of arthritis

Arthritis refers to any disorder that causes “inflammation” of the joints.

What causes the diseases?

Arthritis is due to the wearing down of cartilage, which is the material that cushions the ends of the bones. Some researchers believe that when the joints are unable to react properly to stress, the cartilage is damaged. This leads to the development of the affected area.

Who is at risk of arthritis?

Race: arthritis is less prevalent among African Americans and Hispanics than among non-Hispanic whites.

Arthritis prevalence is higher in women, 24.4%, than in men, 18.1%.

Family: Some very specific types of arthritis can result from hereditary factors. Some families may pass on the tendency for defective cartilage;

Obesity: Arthritis co-exists with other conditions such as overweight or obese individuals. Additionally, physical inactivity has been found to be higher in those with arthritis.

Diabetes: In 2005 and 2007 over half of those with diabetes had arthritis.

People at risk of injuries: Sports injuries, occupation-related injuries and repetitive use joint injuries can increase the risk of arthritis.

Signs & symptoms of arthritis – How would you know if you have arthritis?

While many people with arthritis do not experience any symptoms in the initial stages of the disease, following warning signs are often overlooked:

  • Pain in or around a joint
  • Stiffness or problems moving a joint
  • Swelling (sometimes) in a joint

Complications (What arthritis can lead to?)

Disability: Arthritis (being mainly a disease of bones and joints) is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Immobility: Arthritis limits everyday activities such as walking and dressing. Of working age adults (18 to 64 years), 1 in 20 reports that arthritis affects their ability to work where over one-third of those with arthritis reports that their work is affected by their condition.

Infection: Persistent presence of inflammation for long term increases the risk of buildup of bacteria and bacteria, leading to infections.

What is the treatment of arthritis?

Medical therapy: Medication for some types of arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis, can limit disease progress, control symptoms and prevent serious complications. However, there are a number of limitations and drawbacks associated with the use of medicines in arthritis:

  • Not all medications are considered equally effective for every kind of arthritis.
  • Like any other medical drugs, medicines used in the treatment of arthritis are not free of side effects especially if used for long term.
  • Medicines only target the effects (signs and symptoms) and often not the cause.