The term arthritis literally means “joint inflammation,” but it is generally used to refer to a family of more than 100 different conditions that affect the joints and may also affect muscles and other tissues. The most common of these are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis: It is a joint disease that develops because of wear and tear in the joints. It occurs when the slippery, soft tissue, known as cartilage, which covers the ends of the bones in a joint, breaks down. Healthy cartilage allows bones to glide over one another and absorbs the stress put on a joint, protecting them from damage. Osteoarthritis occurs when this layer wears down and the bones rub together causing pain and swelling and may lead to loss of movement.
Rheumatoid arthritis: It is the result of a fault in the immune system that causes white blood cells, which normally protect the body, to suddenly attack healthy tissues especially the lining of the joints. The affected joint can lose its shape and alignment, resulting in pain and loss of movement. Unlike other forms of arthritis, the effects of rheumatoid arthritis are not limited to the joints. Other problems such as pain, stiffness, warmth, redness and swelling may arise throughout the body.
Other less common types of arthritis include:
Ankylosing spondylitis: Inflammation in the joints of the backbone which causes the bones of the spine to grow together is known as ankylosing spondylitis.
Juvenile arthritis: It is a general term for all types of arthritis that affect children.
Gout: It is a rheumatic disease caused by a defect in the body’s chemistry which occurs most frequently in small joints, especially the big toe.
What puts you at the risk of arthritis?
To better understand and learn more about arthritis in general, you must first know what puts you at high risk of arthritis.
Some of the common risk factors associated with arthritis include:
Elderly: The elderly have high rates of arthritis. Almost half of those with arthritis, about 46 percent, are age 65 or older. However, people of all ages (including children) can be affected.
Women: In every age group the proportion of women who have arthritis is substantially higher than the proportion of men with the condition. For example, almost two-thirds of all Americans living with arthritis are women. Globally, arthritis is more common among women (24.4%) than men (18.1%) in every age group, and it affects members of all racial and ethnic groups.
Family history (Heredity / Genetic tendency): If someone in your family has arthritis, you are more likely to develop the condition.
Obesity: Being overweight puts more pressure on your joints and puts you at increased risk of arthritis.
Joint trauma: A previous injury can lead to arthritis later in life.
Low socioeconomic class: People with less education and lower incomes have higher rates of arthritis. About one-third of the adult population with arthritis has less than a high school education. Similarly, older women with arthritis tend to have lower incomes than other groups.
Last but not least, identifying the crucial risk factors responsible for the development of various types of arthritis is your first step towards better prevention and best treatment of this chronic, debilitating disorder. Know more to prevent more…