Arthritis is a musculoskeletal disorder that specifically affects the joints. The most common complaint of patients who suffer from arthritis is localized pain in one of the many joints in the body. In general, this sensation of pain is attributed to the inflammation that occurs at the joint’s surrounding areas. Inflammation, in turn, is caused by different factors, including an autoimmune disease, a broken bone, the general wear and tear of joints, and bacterial infection. Inflammation can be experienced as stiffness, swelling, redness, tenderness, and warmth at the affected area.
According to Medical News Today, arthritis is the main cause of disability among people over 35 years old in industrialized countries. The disorder affects both men and women. Also, it is now known that there is already a type of arthritis that affects children as well. Arthritis is not a single disease as there are over 100 different types and the number is still growing even today. The most common types of arthritis affecting people today are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid, septic, and juvenile rheumatoid.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disorder and is known to occur as a natural consequence of aging. This condition is also a result of the wear and tear of joints. Osteoarthritis starts when there is a reduced elasticity of cartilage, which acts as a shock absorber. As the cartilage becomes damaged, tendons and ligaments become stretched, causing pain. If left, untreated, cartilage damage continues and the bones may then rub against each other, causing severe pain. Osteoarthritis occurs equally in men and women. However, after the age of 55, it is more common in women.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) involves inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. The most commonly affected areas are the wrists, fingers, knees, feet, and ankles. This condition occurs as a result of the immune system’s attack on the healthy synovial membrane, a type of soft tissue located in between joints. Although the damage at this area of the body is known to be the result of a disorder of the immune system, the cause of this autoimmune attack itself is still uncertain. Rheumatoid Arthritis can occur at any age, but is more common in middle age. Also, women contract the disease more often than men.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) is similar in all aspects to Rheumatoid Arthritis except that the former usually occurs to patients below the age of 16. Sometimes, the symptoms may already start manifesting as early as six months old. Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis also involves joint pain and swelling and the cause of the disease is still not known.
Septic Arthritis or Infectious Arthritis occurs as a result of bacterial or fungal infection. In addition to joint pain and swelling, a fever is also usually experienced by the patient. People who are at an increased risk of contracting the disease are those with injuries and those who have just undergone surgery. The most common affected sites for Infectious Arthritis are the knees and the hips.
There are other not-so-common types of arthritis as well, and each one of them is caused by different factors and would manifest unique symptoms. Living with any kind of arthritis can make performing daily tasks more difficult. However, there are now many treatment procedures present that aid in relieving pain and discomfort. And because of this, a patient diagnosed with arthritis today will have the opportunity to continue living his or her active lifestyle much longer than in ages past. It is imperative to see your specialist regularly to make sure you are following the most effective treatments.