Monday, February 8, 2010

An Overview of Arthritis

Typically arthritis is associated with aging; however, it can affect people of any age. This joint disorder is in its most basic definition, a swelling of the joints. But, as anyone who suffers from arthritis can tell you, it is much more than a simple swelling. According to the experts at Medicine Net, there are over one hundred known types of arthritis and that number is growing. In the United States, arthritis is one of the most common chronic illnesses suffered.
Arthritis can be the result of many different things. Joints that have suffered an injury can develop what is known as osteoarthritis while metabolic imbalances such as gout can cause other types of arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an overactive immune system and there are some types of arthritis that are hereditary and others that have no known reason for being.
Arthritis affects the joints and muscles, ligaments , tendons and cartilage which place it in the category with rheumatic diseases. Rheumatic diseases cover many different illnesses with various symptoms, treatments and outcomes. The common factor is that all rheumatic diseases affect the joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and cartilage and can also affect organs in the body as well.

The most common symptom of arthritis is pain and possibly swelling. You won’t be able to use your joints as well as normal and you feel stiff and tender to the touch. Because there are so many types of arthritis it is not uncommon to have symptom that include weight loss, fever, lymph node swelling, and general overall feeling of malaise.

A rheumatologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis. Using your medical history and your family’s medical history along with some diagnostic tests, the doctor will make a determination concerning your symptoms and set up a treatment plan.

Arthritis treatment plans vary and consist mainly of pain and inflammation management. In addition to medication to help with pain and swelling, many patients find success with physical therapy, massage therapy, splinting and even surgical procedures.

Millions of people every year are diagnosed with arthritis and are learning to cope with its effects. Scientists and doctors around the world are working toward more and better treatment options to help with the pain. Until one is found, pain management is the best option for most people.

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