What is Arthritis and what are the different types of Arthritis?

When people talk about arthritis, in the majority of cases they are referring to Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and is the second most common cause of long-term disability in the US. X-rays taken of individuals over the age of 65 show that over 50% have evidence of arthritic changes in knees and almost 100% of individuals over 75 years old. In general osteoarthritis is an overuse condition and directly correlates with wear and tear on the joints involved. There are certain occupations that predispose individuals earlier onset Osteoarthritis, and weight is also a factor for and primarily affects weight being joints: lumbar spine, hips, knees and feet. There is also a slightly higher incidence of Osteoarthritis in women over 55 years old, and this tends to involve the hands and fingers.

Osteoarthritis is primarily a disease caused by damage to the joints cartilage. It can be thought of as the tread wearing out on a tire, once the cartilage (tread) has worn down, then it cannot be replaced.

How is Arthritis Diagnosed?

Arthritis is usually diagnosed with history, physical examination and x-rays. Classic x-ray findings include bone spurring (osteophytes) and joint space narrowing.

What are the symptoms of Arthritis?

The hallmark symptoms of arthritis are pain and stiffness. The pain usually comes on gradually and is mild, but becomes more severe with movement and use of the joint. Stiffness is common in the morning and after periods of inactivity or rest. In osteoarthritic conditions stiffness usually less than 30 minutes, and generally longer in rheumatoid arthritis. There also may be popping, grinding or clicking with range of motion of the joint. Swelling and redness may also be present when inflammation is more severe. The amount of swelling may vary with activity level.

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