Main Types of Arthritis and Symptoms
The word Arthritis is derived from the Greek words "arthro" (meaning joint) and "itis" (meaning inflammation). It literally means the inflammation of the joint. It is a condition that affects more than 40 million Americans and causes of arthritis vary but the one of the main cause is attributed to the ageing process.
Arthritis is a leading cause of disability in the world. There are more than 100 types of arthritis but the most common ones are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout and psoriatic arthritis, each of them characterized by slightly different symptoms.
The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis is a gradual breakdown of joint cartilage through decades of joint movements. Cartilage is the flexible smooth tissue found between bone joints which enables two connecting joints to move against each other smoothly with very little friction. This enables easy movement of the joints.
Through the years of use, wear and tear result in the cartilage becoming gradually thinner and even completely worn out. This results in the two connecting bones directly rubbing against each other, causing pain, even through such simple actions as getting up from a chair or bed.
Osteoarthritis affects mostly the weight bearing joints like the knees, hips, feet, lower back and to a certain extend the hands. Before age 45, it affects mostly men before the age of 45 and women after the age of 55. Osteoarthritis symptoms are pain, stiffness and tenderness in the affected joints. There is some loss of flexibility and there may be some creaking or grating sensation during movement.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is characterized mainly by chronic inflammation of the joints which affects the joint lining. This leads to damage to the bone cartilage and even joint distortion. As the cartilage gradually gets thinner, pain is experienced when the connecting bones start to rub against each other.
Unilke osteoarthritis which is due to "wear and rear" through years of bone movements, rheumatoid arthritis is mainly due to an abnormal immune system which attacks healthy living tissues, mainly in the joints but it can also affect other organs of the body.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are tender and swollen joints which may be warm when touched. The affected area may also appear red. There is often stiffness in the joints in the morning.
Gout is a form of arthritis that is caused by an abnormally high level of uric acid in the body. Uric acid is naturally present in the body in small amounts. It is produced by the breakdown of purines which are natural substances found in the cells of the body and in most foods.
High levels of uric acid in the body through a long period of time can cause uric acid crystals to form in the joints of the bones. These hard crystals lead to pain, swelling and inflammation of the joints. Symptoms of gout include pain in one joint or more, mainly ankle, knee and feet. The affected area would be red, warm and tender. The painful episode may disappear after a few days but would be recurring.
Psoriatic arthritis is the form of arthritis that develops from psoriasis, a skin disorder that is characterized by patches of raised, red skin, covered by silvery-white scale. About 3 in 10 people with psoriasis develop arthritis in their 40s or 50s.
Psoriatic Arthritis symptoms include pain, stiffness and swelling in one or more joints such as the ankle, knee and joints of the feet. Pain may also be experienced in the lower back.
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“Glucosamine produced in the body provides natural building blocks for growth, repair and maintenance of cartilage. Like chondroitin, glucosamine may lubricate joints, help cartilage retain water and prevent its breakdown. Trial results are mixed, but overall, glucosamine appears to reduce pain and improve function in OA. Research also suggests glucosamine may slow joint damage.”
“MSM is an organic sulfur compound. Sulfur is needed to form connective tissue. MSM also seems to act as an analgesic by lessening nerve impulses that transmit pain. A 2006 pilot study of 50 men and women with knee osteoarthritis showed that 6,000 mg of MSM improved symptoms of pain and physical function without major side effects.”