There is no single disease called arthritis. A reason why so many people say have arthritis is undoubtedly because collectively they are talking a number of diseases, which they put under one convenient heading.
Arthritis comes it at least six guises, and includes others, such as gout, which are not always recognized as part of the family. The two commonest forms are osteoarthritis, a localized breakdown of one or more joints and perhaps some body tissues, all at the same time.
Osteoarthritis, which tends to develop later in life, is often painful an debilitating. It results usually from wear and tear, particularly in the weight-carrying joints of the hip, spine and knees. I shows up also in the knobby, gnarled hands of people who have done years of heavy manual work. Loss of cartilage, which cushions healthy joints, causes bone ends to rub together, swelling the area.
So far, doctors have found no way to prevent osteoarthritis. Its effects can be minimized by rest, combined with moderate exercise, such as swimming, in which the body is supported by water. Weight reduction helps to ease the strain on the spine, hips and legs.
Rheumatoid arthritis, no less painful, sometimes strikes quite suddenly, affecting younger people and more women than men. Inflammation stats the problem. The synovial membrane lining the joint becomes raw, and wells. The inflammation spreads to the cartilage and other connective tissue. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. In severe cases, rheumatoid arthritis reaches the arteries, internal organs, the neck, shoulders and even the eyes.
Evidence suggests that the disorder runs in families. The course of the disease is often quite to predict, because symptoms flare up suddenly and often vanish for years without evident cause. Effective management of persistent rheumatoid arthritis calls for a carefully integrated program of therapeutic exercises, warm compresses, relaxation and appropriate medication.
The third most common form or arthritis, known as ankylosing spondylitis, is an inflammatory disorder of the spine. In general, it strikes young men in their twenties and thirties, who may have inherited a susceptibility to the disease. Doctors believe that a bowel infection sometimes triggers the initial inflammation, which affects tissues tying the vertebrae together. Treatment aims at keeping the spine flexible. It it is delayed, the entire spine may stiffen, causing the victim to have a permanent stoop.
“Severe rheumatoid arthritis” shows itself in the X-rayed hands of a long-term victim. Some specialists believe that the disease may sometimes be triggered by anxiety and depression