Arthritis is a disease that in some way effects everyone. Whether you have arthritis or not, chances are, you know someone who does and can see the effect it has on them. There are some common misconceptions about arthritis, types of arthritis, and the causes. There are in fact some different types of the disease that most people don’t know about. One type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. It is a degenerative arthritis (a condition in which joint cartilage breaks down). New tissue, which grows at the ends of bones, has no cartilage cap to shape it.
This new bone forms into lips and ridges that grind and grate against each other and get in the way of how the joint moves. Osteoarthritis is common in older people after years of using a joint more that one usually uses one. The thin cartilage wears away on bone rubs on bone. Osteoarthritis can also result from diseases like Paget’s disease (in which the long bones of the body curve), or osteoporosis. Osteoarthritis of the spine is called Spondylosis. That happens when joints degenerate and the weight of the body is supported unevenly. Other forms of arthritis can also cause what’s called a secondary osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis does not happen to all people when they get old. Only some elderly people get the disease. Women are affected more than men. Usually their heredity and the strength of their immune systems are the reasons why. Medical science still isn’t quite sure of all the reasons why some people get it and others don’t. But they do offer some suggestions for treatment. Exercising to keep joints flexible and improve muscle strength. Different medications are used to control pain including corticosteroids, NSAIDs, and even injecting Glucocorticoids into joints that are inflamed, and not responding to NSAIDs.
Sometimes, Surgery is necessary to relieve chronic pain in damaged joints. Another type is Rheumatoid arthritis. It is what’s known as an inflammatory arthritis. It is the second most common form of arthritis, right behind osteoarthritis. It affects primarily the small joints in the hands and feet, causing crippling deformities. This is an arthritis that usually starts in middle-life or earlier. Estimates say one out of every hundred people, (females are two to three times as likely) suffer from it. It usually starts in the winter and after a common sickness, but it isn’t considered an infective arthritis.
Nobody knows what causes rheumatoid arthritis. It could be some hereditary trait. Scientists think that rheumatoid arthritis may be an autoimmune disease (that means the body acts as though it were allergic to itself). The immune system gets mixed up and attacks normal joint tissue instead of the infection it is supposed to attack. Polyarteritis Nodosa is also an inflammatory arthritis. It can even be life threatening. However, it is a rarer form of arthritis. It affects four times as many males as females, and of those, mostly young adults.
Some symptoms are joint and muscle pain, ulcers, sores on the legs, and gangrene on your fingers and toes (because of cut off blood supply to those parts). The organs of the body are almost always all involved. Symptoms like sudden blindness, hemiplegia, and heart disease all occur. Quick treatment prevents death, which usually happens within the first five years. Some cases simply get better for no apparent reasons. Ankylosing Spondylitis is also an inflammatory arthritis. It effects the spine, which causes fusing of the vertebrae. It is more common in young men that women.
It’s also one of the types of arthritis that are more common than people realize. This condition may affect one out of every one hundred persons as well. Ankylosing (the fusing of the vertebrae) starts in the lower part of the spine. It causes a mild stoop in posture at first. But as the vertebrae fuse further up the spine, the hunch gets easier to see. If the fusing reaches the cervical vertebrae, the neck bows and the body makes a kind of a “C” shape. Now the victim of ankylosing spondylitis can only look downward and within the field of his or her eye movements.
This smaller field of vision increases the awkwardness of the person’s walking. Despite this deformity, the function of the body is usually good. But the heart, stomach, and kidneys can be affected by crooked posture. Still’s disease (juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) is the last kind of inflammatory arthritis. It is not actually a young form of rheumatoid arthritis, but an inflammatory arthritis affecting juveniles. Still’s disease is rare and can affect children under 16. It changes the growth of the legs so that length in one or both legs is different.
It also causes eye disease and blindness. Still’s disease is usually classified as an “inflammatory arthritis,” but it’s also considered as an infective arthritis because it is usually comes after diseases like leukemia, rheumatic fever, and sickle cell anemia. The next type of arthritis is bacterial infective arthritis. If you were to get a deep wound that penetrates a joint, the bacteria could cause bacterial infective arthritis. Usually the infection is elsewhere, in a cut, missing teeth, or boils. High fever and chills accompany this.
Gonorrhea can even cause arthritis. Gonorrheal arthritis generally only attacks one or two joints, but makes patients very sick. Syphilis often shows arthritis in the second and third stages. “Viral infective arthritis” is classified as an infective arthritis. Some fungus infections can cause this arthritis, but it is very rare because fungus does not usually attack the skeletal system. The primary cause of fungal infective arthritis is often the long-term antibiotic medicine used to combat the fungus. So you get rid of the fungus, but get the arthritis.
Not the greatest deal. Virus infections like rubella, mumps, some flu, viral hepatitis, and some upper-respiratory infections may sometimes bring on arthralgia, pain in the joints that can feel like arthritis, but rarely is it actually a form of arthritis Treatment for arthritis depends on the symptoms and varies with the physician. Certain doctors specialize in areas of arthritis. Rhematologists, orthopedists, Physiatrists, and general practitioners are all qualified in dealing with these problems. Anti-inflammatory medicine can be given when the joints become inflamed.
Corticosteroids (substances derived from hormones produced in the adrenal gland) are often used to reduce inflammation. But the side effects of steroids on the organs of the body limit their use. In children, steroids can even stunt growth. Direct injection on medicine into an inflamed bursa or joint helps relieve pain. Surgery can be done on vertebrae to relieve the exaggerated stoop of spondylitis. An infected knee or hip joint can be replaced with an artificial joint. These work amazingly well, especially in the hip. Bunions can be surgically removed, ligaments repaired, offending bony growths or calcifications removed.
Of course, not everyone can afford, or take stress of going through surgery. Elderly, overweight, or diabetic people, and patients with heart or lung disease sometimes have more problems with the surgery than with the arthritis. Not all arthritic conditions benefit from surgery either. The first objective in every arthritis case is to relieve the pain. Most people just use aspirin. Heat works too. But sadly most types of arthritis have no cure, and in those cases therapy is directed toward making the patient more comfortable and more functional.