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Understanding Arthritis

Sensational Seniors

Arthritis is the word that actually encompasses more than one hundred diseases and conditions affecting joints, the surrounding tissues, and other connective tissues. The word "arthritis" technically refers to any disorder that causes "inflammation" of the joints. It's a broad term that generalizes an affliction that affects many.

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

Arthritis comes in more than 100 different forms. The specific causes for most forms are not yet known, making it difficult to know how one could prevent being afflicted with it. The most common symptoms include joint pain, inability to move joints normally and inflammation.

What causes arthritis?

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 arthritis.

Who is at risk?

  • Women: Arthritis is seen in women 24.4 percent; men 18.1 percent.
  • Heredity: Some specific types of arthritis can result from heredity factors. The tendency for defective cartilage can be passed on in our genes.
  • Obesity: Over weight or obese individuals tend to have a higher rate of arthritis. In addition, physical inactivity has been found to be higher in those who suffer from arthritis.
  • Diabetes: Reports from 2005 and 2007 state that over half of people who suffer diabetes also suffer from arthritis.
  • Injuries: Sport injuries, work injuries, and repetitive joint use injuries can increase the risk of diabetes.

Signs and Symptoms

In the early stages of arthritis some people will not experience any symptoms. However, there are some warning signals to be aware of:

  • Pain in and around any joint.
  • Stiffness or problems moving a joint.
  • Inflammation/swelling in a joint.

The persistent presence of inflammation increases the risk of buildup of bacteria, which can lead to infections.

Arthritis can limit your everyday activities - even simple ones such as walking and dressing. Over one third of arthritis sufferers report that their work is also affected by their condition. In fact, arthritis is now the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Treating 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. Medications for some types of arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis, can limit disease progression, control symptoms and prevent serious complications.

However, medicines only target the signs and symptoms and often not the cause.

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