POSTED ON: July 31, 2014
What is arthritis and what causes it?Arthritis is not just minor aches and pains that come with aging, it is a complex network of more than 100 different diseases or conditions that can affect people of all ages, races and genders. It is a painful musculoskeletal disease attacking the joints. And like diabetes and multiple sclerosis, it can also be an autoimmune disease, as in the case of rheumatoid arthritis, which dates back to 4,500 BC.
The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis afflicting primarily older patients. This condition targets the cartilage in our bodies, the material that cushions the joints, making the bones rub against each other, causing stiffness, pain and loss of joint movement.
There is no one reason attributed to arthritis. Depending on the type, it can be hereditary or caused by factors such as bacterial or viral infections, problems with your immune system, or an injury that can lead to osteoarthritis.
Can you prevent arthritis?Because arthritis is not one but a 100 different conditions, disorders and diseases, there is no one way to ensure you are not afflicted. But the Arthritis Foundation recommends the following guiding principles:
- Educate yourself – In this case the best prevention is education – knowing the various forms the disease might take on and understanding the progression. Stay current on the latest research and findings.
- Remain physically active – Maintain a good exercise routine that promotes weight management and joint health (such as walking, aerobics and yoga). Always seek the advice of your health care professional before any lifestyle change.
- Protect your joints – No matter what you do, whether at work or working out, take care to protect your joints to ensure they continue to work for you.
For people with arthritis, lessening pain is what they often seek. As such, arthritis treatment usually focuses on pain relief and improving joint function. The medications available to treat arthritis vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. The Mayo Clinic lists the following commonly used arthritis medications and treatments:
- Analgesics – Reduce pain but have no affect on inflammation.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – These act on both pain and inflammation.
- Counterirritants – These creams and ointments contain ingredients that can interrupt transmission of pain signals.
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) – These stop or slow the immune system’s attack on your joints.
- Biologics – These are genetically engineered drugs that target various protein molecules that are involved in the immune response.
- Corticosteroids – These are aimed at reducing inflammation and suppressing the immune system.
- Physical Therapy – Focuses on improving range of motion and strengthening the muscles surrounding the joints.
- Surgery – Used if all else fails. Involves replacing your damaged joints with artificial ones.
References: About, The Arthritis Foundation, Arthritis.org, Medicine.Net, OnHealth, WebMD
Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health.
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