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Arthritis  

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Arthritis is not a simple medical problem, but a a whole set of different medical conditions caused by inflamed joints where joints are damaged. There are some estimated 200 different forms of arthritis. It is a painful condition and one which is difficult to deal with.

A person suffering from arthritis will have stiff, swollen and painful joints which in severe cases can cause partial immobilization. The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis

A patient with osteoarthritis has joints where protective cartilage have broken down and the exposed joint surfaces. As the joints rubbed against each other, it gets inflamed and thus painful. The most common joints to be affected by osteoarthritis are the finger joints, knee joints, hip joints, and spinal
  • joints. Less common are the wrist joints, elbow joints, shoulder joints, and ankle joints. It is often triggered by injury or over-use, but the exact causes are not known.

    Symptoms of osteoarthritis

    In the beginning, an affected person may just feel aches after physical work or exercises. As time goes by, this become a steady or intermittent pain as well as swelling and tenderness. If the patient is inactive, this progress further to joints stiffness. Crunching sound (bone rubbing on bone) may even accompany movements.

    Rheumatoid arthritis

    Rheumatoid arthritis is usually caused by inflammation of the lining of the joints (the lining of the joints are called synovium). Rheumatoid arthritis is usually a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune medical disorder where the immune system go crazy and start to attack the joints. It is a disabling disease which can lead to joint destruction. It can even affect the lungs, the blood and the heart itself. The diseased joined may even go out of shape with loss of normal movement.

    Causes of rheumatoid arthritis

    As mentioned above, rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease. The immune system whose function is to fight infections and other foreign invaders, malfunctions, and instead start to attack the body tissues itself. Nobody is clear about why it happen. It can be influenced by genetics, that is, it could be hereditary. In some cases, rheumatoid arthritis seem to be triggered by infection.

    Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

    Rheumatoid arthritis patients have stiff and swollen joints which may flare up suddenly, the recede. The symptoms may also be experienced over an extended period of time. Severe rheumatoid arthritis can lead to severe joints damage, misshaped joints and disability.

    Treatment for arthritis

    Treatment of arthritis is tough. Some says exercise can help. Others believe in a varied and balanced diet. In some cases, arthritis patients takes physical therapy. Some seeing no help in conventional medicine turns to alternative medicine like acupuncture.

    Medications for arthritis

    There are medications for arthritis, but they are for relief of symptoms and not a cure. Arthritis medication can be divided into 7 categories:

    1. Traditional nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

    2. COX-2 specific inhibitors

    3. Combination therapies

    4. Pain relievers (analgesics)

    5. Steroids

    6. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)

    7. Biologic response modifiers


    Surgery

    Severe cases of arthritis may require surgery of which there are various procedures:

    1. Arthrodesis

    2. Arthroplasty

    3. Arthroscopy

    4. Osteotomy

    5. Synovectomy

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