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Top 5 facts about arthritis

arthritis, facts about arthritis, rheumaticism, disability, inflammation of the joints

Arthritis is usually associated with cracking joints; many people believe that the habit of cracking nuckles will lead to arthritis. However, until today, no scientific evidence has been found to support this folk belief. When two or more bones meet in the human body, a joint can be found which is surrounded by joint fluid. This fluid plays an important role because it protects the bones from rubbing against each other. What happens when a joint is making a cracking sound is actually the fluid being pushed out and it is the high pressure of the fluid which produces the sound. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the loss of fluid in the joints which damages the lining of the joint itself. Usually people who have passed the age of 65 will suffer from arthritis and it is the leading cause of disability in the elderly.

There are many typess of arthritis which are caused by different factors. When the body attackes itself, or what is known as autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis will be suffered. However, the most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis which is also known as degenerative joint disease. It can be caused by simply aging, but also by trauma to the joint after an infection of the joint. There is more scientific evidence accumulated recently which seems to indicate that abnormal anatomy many be leading to early development of osteoarthritis. Septic arthritis, in turn, is caused by joint infection. Inflammation of the joints is a sign of goutry arthritis which is caused by the deposition of uric acid crystals in the joints.

Pain is the most felt symptom of arthritis. Pain which can be severe is usually felt at night, but rheumatoid arthritis is most painful in the morning. Patients suffering from arthritis in the early stages, do not notice any symptoms before their morning shower. Although pain may not be the main feature of people suffering from arthritis; elder people may simply move less, while children may refuse to use the affected limb. The diagnosis of arthritis is based on the history of the pain which includes onset, number and types of joints involved, aggravating factors, and relieving factors. The positive diagnosis of arthritis is usually confirmed after physical examination by the physician. The next step is usually radiographs which is necessary to follow progression. It is also a method to get quantitative results which reflect severity. In addition, X-rays and blood tests of the affected joints are made to confirm the diagnosis. Blood tests will show whether the following factors are present: rheumatoid factor, antinuclear factor, extractable nuclear antigen, and other specific antibodies.

The treatment arthritis has a long history. Willow bark was a popular treatment in 500 BC because it helped relieved the aches and pains of arthritis. In the early 1820s, the chemical compound in the willow bark was scientifically studied by European scientists who found the compound salicin. This compound was very noxious for the stomach and in 1897 Felix Hoffman isolated the compound and made it less irritating for the stomach. This compund was trademarked by Bayer Company under the name “Aspirin” in 1899. Nowadays, arthritis is also treated with physical and occupational therapy, medications, and arthroplasty or prosthetic joint replacement which can be seen as a last resort. Despite the fact that arthroplasty can be seen as a last resort, more than 90% of the patients who has undergone this treatment are very satisfied.

In 2006, nearly one in five adults in the US suffer from arthritis. This translates into 46 million people which means that arthritis is the most prevalent health problem in the US. Arthritis can be identified as the leading cause of disability among Americans over the age 15. Although mostly called the ‘old age’ disease, arthritis also affects nearly 300,000 children. Half of the Americans with arthritis thinks that nothing can be done for them. Arthritis strikes women more often than men. Arthritis costs the US economy a total $128 billion every year and this figure is rising every year.
Published: 2007-04-21
Author: Martin Hahn

About the author or the publisher
Martin Hahn PhD has received his education and degrees in Europe in organizational/industrial sociology. He grew up in South-East Asia and moved to Europe to get his tertiary education and gain experience in the fields of scientific research, radio journalism, and management consulting.

After living in Europe for 12 years, he moved to South-East again and has worked for the last 12 years as a management consultant, university lecturer, corporate trainer, and international school administrator

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