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Western Orthopaedics

Arthritis

Arthritis Overview

The term arthritis literally means inflammation of a joint, but is generally used to describe any condition in which there is damage to the cartilage. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury. The warning signs that inflammation presents are redness, swelling, heat and pain. The cartilage is a padding that absorbs stress. The proportion of cartilage damage and synovial inflammation varies with the type and stage of arthritis. Usually the pain early on is due to inflammation. In the later stages, when the cartilage is worn away, most of the pain comes from the mechanical friction of raw bones rubbing on each other.

Types of Arthritis

There are over 100 different types of rheumatic diseases. The most common are:

Osteoarthritis is also called as degenerative joint disease; this is the most common type of arthritis, which often occurs in elderly people. This disease affects cartilage, the tissue that cushions and protects the ends of bones in a joint. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage starts to wear away over time. In extreme cases, the cartilage can completely wear away, leaving nothing to protect the bones in a joint, causing bone-on-bone contact. Bones may also bulge, or stick out at the end of a joint, called a bone spur. Osteoarthritis causes joint pain and can limit a person’s normal range of motion (the ability to freely move and bend a joint). When severe, the joint may lose all movement, causing a person to become disabled. Disability most often happens when the disease affects the spine, knees, and hips.

This is an auto-immune disease in which the body’s immune system (the body’s way of fighting infection) attacks healthy joints, tissues, and organs. Occurring most often in women of childbearing age (15-44 years), this disease inflames the lining (or synovium) of joints. It is 2 to 3 times more common in women than men. It can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of function in the joints. When severe, rheumatoid arthritis can deform or change a joint. For example, the joints in a person’s finger can become deformed, causing the finger to bend or curve. Rheumatoid Arthritis affects mostly joints of the hands and feet and tends to be symmetrical. This means the disease affects the same joints on both sides of the body (both the hands or both feet) at the same time and with the same symptoms. No other form of arthritis is symmetrical.

Arthritis that develops following an injury to the hand, wrist or elbow such as a fracture, severe sprain or ligament tear is called post-traumatic arthritis. The condition may develop years after the trauma occured.

This form of arthritis occurs in some people who have psoriasis, a scaling skin disorder. It affects the joints at the ends of the fingers and toes and can also cause changes in the fingernails and toenails. Back pain may occur if the spine is involved.

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Arthritis Causes

Arthritis Symptoms & Diagnosis

Arthritis Treatment

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