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   Arthritis is a common term that refers to a category of diseases that involves damage to the joints of the body. I’m sure you know someone personally or know of someone that has some type of arthritis, especially since there are over 100 different types and because it is so prevalent not only to adults but in children as well. Arthritis main symptom is constant pain. This pain is normally associated to inflammation or swelling in the joint.

    The human body is typically made up of on average 200-300 joints (depending upon the number of bones and the classification of a joint). A joint is the site where two or more bones meet. At this juncture is what’s called a joint capsule, which encompasses the joint where the bones meet.  Inside this capsule is what’s called synovial fluid. Synovial fluid keeps the joint moving freely. However over time this fluid can decrease because of age, improper nutrition, injury or toxins. This can cause arthritis to form within the joint.    

    Pain from arthritis is normally caused by inflammation in the joint. Inflammation is the body’s own reaction to remove harmful stimuli and initiate healing. Although, inflammation is an integral part of the healing process, the body regulates it very closely because if left unmanaged inflammation can lead to other diseases such as arthritis.  Inflammation in the joints is normally caused by damage or injury, daily wear and tear, or muscle strains. 

    To determine the different types of arthritis it is important to look at the symptoms, the duration of the symptoms, the degree of symptoms, the symptom patterns and location. Arthritis symptoms include inability to use extremities, fatigue, fever, weight loss, poor sleep, muscle aches and pains, tenderness, stiffness, and difficulty in movement of a joint. The two most prevalent types of arthritis are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis. These types of arthritis occur for completely separate reasons and in different locations in the body.

    Osteoarthritis normally occurs as people get older, on average after age 55.  Osteoarthritis occurs in the larger joints of the body that are weight bearing such as the hips, knees, or the spine. Osteoarthritis is usually caused from normal wear and tear of the joint but can be brought on through prior injury, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle. Degeneration occurs initially in the cartilage and leads to the opposite bones grinding into each other. This can cause immense pain without ceasing. Pain of this nature can be debilitating and prevents the person from not only exercising but doing any daily activities.  Although, there is no cure for osteoarthritis treatments are available to help the symptoms and prevent further worsening. For the obese weight loss is the first step to decreasing the pain. Physical therapy, pain medications and even joint replacement are additional options for people who suffer from osteoarthritis.

    Rheumatoid arthritis on the other hand, occurs for no known reason. The body’s immune system begins to attack the joint tissue, lining and cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the fingers, wrists, knees, and elbows. Where as osteoarthritis normally occurs later in life rheumatoid arthritis normally arises around age 20 and up. In rare cases children can be affected with rheumatoid and presents as a skin rash, fever, pain and disability. Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis the treatment revolves around easing the symptoms. There are several drug regimens that include steroids and antibodies.

    About 16 percent of Americans are suffering from one form or another of arthritis. Most forms of arthritis can lead to disability throughout life. Arthritis can cause severe limitations in functioning and mobility.  Since it has such debilitating effects relief is the most important aspect to for arthritis sufferers.