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Do you or someone you know suffer from arthritis? It is a common disease, you likely do. What type? Only a doctor can tell, but there are over 100 different types of arthritis. Despite this large number, they typically fall into two categories.
1 – Osteoarthritis
This disease is most commonly found in men and women over the age of 65. It is also known as degenerative arthritis. This name comes from the progression of the disease. It beings with cartilage breakdown. The cartilage covering the bones degenerates and wears away. Essentially, sufferers have exposed bones. These bones then rub against each other, causing severe pain and discomfort. Many also experience difficultly moving.
The most noticeable symptom of osteoarthritis is joint pain. Stiffness is common the morning and after movement. All joints can be impacted by osteoarthritis, but the most common are the hips, feet, back, knees, and fingers. Those with arthritis problems in the hands and feet may find it difficult to walk without a limp and grasp otherwise easy objects.
As with most types of arthritis, there is not just one cause for osteoarthritis. There are many contributing factors. These include body weight, previous injuries, and genes. Although osteoarthritis typically affects the elderly, athletes who repeatedly use the same joints and suffer injury are at an increased risk. As for body weight, the joints and muscle surrounding them carry most of the body’s weight; more weight applies more pressure. Although rare, there are defects that can lead to osteoarthritis. These include a lack of protein that makes up cartilage and the poor fitting of bones and joints.
2 – Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis affects over one million people in the United States. It does not discriminate, as individuals of all ages are susceptible to the disease. In fact, there are three types of rheumatoid arthritis for juveniles alone. The cause? The immune system is supposed to protect our body, but in some cases it does the exact opposite. With rheumatoid arthritis, it attacks the joint lining membrane.
The most noticeable symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is pain. If untreated, other complications can arise. The most common is disability. To prevent this from happening, all patients are urged to exercise their joints and muscles, even though it may be painful at first. Another common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is inflammation. The swelling can be mild to severe. In most instances, this is what separates rheumatoid arthritis from other forms. Swelling and inflammation is likely, but it is much more prominent and debilitating.
Luckily, rheumatoid arthritis suffers rarely experience constant pain. The disease flares up from time to time. These flare ups are trigged by joint overuse and certain foods. As for the cause, it is currently unknown. There are however many theories. One being genes.
3 – Fibromyalgia
Although not always classified as a form of arthritis, fibromyalgia is an arthritis related condition. This disease affects over three million people in the United States. That number is actually higher, but some patients are misdiagnosed.
The most noticeable symptom of fibromyalgia is muscle pain. There are also tender spots in the muscle and body that are more susceptible to pain and pressure. Additional symptoms include headaches, bladder problems, difficulty thinking, fatigue, and sleep difficulty.
While researchers have yet to determine a connection, a good percentage of those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis later develop fibromyalgia. It wasn’t bad enough that your joints hurt, but now the muscles in your body too? Additional causes may be related to prior injuries. Some studies have shown that those with previous injuries are more likely to develop the disease. Many experts believe the change in muscles, due to injury, can later lead to chronic pain and fibromyalgia.
Now that you are familiar with some of the most common types of arthritis, what comes next? If you or someone who you know suffers from arthritis, medical care is important. A proper diagnosis is important to developing the best treatment option. Low impact exercise can loosen the joints and strengthen the surrounding muscles. This not only eliminates joint stiffness, but it can later prevent disability and deformities.
Finally, some pain can be treated, but it will reoccur. Those suffering from arthritis need to learn how to manage their pain. This involves not focusing too much on it, eliminating stress, asking for help, getting a good night sleep, and learning how to calmly relax.