ARTHRITIS
Easy Guide To: Joint Inflammation In Women

Arthritis Guide For Women Pictures of Arthritis

Arthritic Female

Guide To Arthritis

Contents

What is Arthritis?
What Types are There?
What Causes It?
What are the Symptoms?
How is it Diagnosed?
How is it Treated?
Can it be Prevented?

Types Of Arthritis

Osteoarthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis


Arthritis Guide

Types of Arthritis
Causes
Symptoms
Diagnosis
Treatment
Natural Therapies
Home Aids
Arthritis of the Shoulder
Arthritis of the Hand
Hip Arthritis
Arthritis of the Knee

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What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints of the body (joints are the point where 2 bones meet). It is characterized by pain, stiffness and swelling in the affected joints. It can vary in severity from a mild ache 'in the bones' to severe stiffness and joint deformity. As there are over 200 types of arthritis, the word 'arthritis' is not a diagnosis in itself but is rather an umbrella term. When examining a patient a doctor will seek to determine the underlying disease. The most common cause is osteoarthritis which usually involves the hips, knees and hands. Rheumatoid arthritis is another common cause where the body's own immune system attacks the joint tissues. While arthritis affects people of all ages, including children, most types tend to occur in older people and women. While there is no cure for most forms of arthritis (unless it is infection related) there is plenty that can be done to control the progression and improve a patient's quality of life.

Types of Arthritis

The 2 most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis - but these are only 2 of the many hundreds which have been identified. Different types have different causes and can affect the body in different ways.

Osteoarthritis
This condition develops gradually over a number of years and affects the joints. Osteoarthritis is linked to the gradual loss of cartilage, the material which prevents bone ends from rubbing against each other. As the cartilage breaks down (mostly due to wear and tear), the bones rub together producing pain and inflammation. Typically it appears in the knees, hips and hands.
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive disease which causes inflammation of the tissues that line the joints. It commonly affects the wrists and hands but can also appear in other areas of the body other than the joints. As the joints become inflamed they are painful, swollen and warm to touch. People with this condition are usually stiff and ache first thing in the morning. It affects about 4 percent of women in America.
Lupus Arthritis (or just Lupus for short)
A chronic autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation - not just of the joints but also of the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, lungs and brain. Other signs include rashes and fever after exposure to sunlight. Initial signs usually include aches and pains of the joints and sometimes inflammation.
Psoriatic Arthritis Some people who develop psoriasis (a skin condition which causes scaly red patches) also develop a form of arthritis known as psoriatic arthritis. Joints become swollen, particularly in the knees, elbows and toes.
Polymyalgia Rheumatica
This inflammatory condition affects the shoulder muscles, upper arms, buttocks and thighs.
Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)

TMJ is a common disorder of the joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. It can develop in response to stress or after a trauma to the face and can lead to teeth grinding during sleep (bruxism).
Infectious Arthritis
This is a non-chronic form of arthritis that is caused by an infection which spreads to the joints through the blood vessels. Joint pain may be accompanied by fever and weakness. This form of arthritis is highly treatable, in fact curable.

Arthritis Causes

Experts are not sure of the exact causes of arthritis, as many factors appear to contribute to an individual’s likelihood of developing this problem. Risk factors include:

Genetics
There are some indications that genes play a role. Scientists have discovered certain genetic mutations which if they are present can increase a person's chance of developing certain types of arthritis.
Age
50 percent of American adults over 65 reported an arthritis diagnosis (2007-09). See more stats at latest health statistics.
Gender
There are 24 million American women with arthritis compared to 17 million American men.
Body Weight
66 percent of arthritis patients are overweight or obese. Losing as little as 11 pounds in weight reduces a woman's risk of developing osteoarthritis by 50 percent.
Previous Injuries
Any joint damage caused by an accident or sports injury can lead to the development of arthritis over time.
Occupational Hazards
Those who work in some specific jobs, like heavy construction or assembly lines have higher rates of 'wear and tear' types of arthritis.
Infection
The microorganisms that cause infections such as Lyme disease, strep throat, gonorrhea, influenza or gout can cause infectious arthritis.

Arthritis Symptoms

Arthritis symptoms: The type of arthritis a person has determines the sort of symptoms they experience and how long they are likely to last. The majority of people find that their condition gradually becomes worse, although in the early stages it may be difficult for a doctor to predict the exact course the disease will take. Most people experience pain in the affected area, discomfort, stiffness of the joints and fatigue. Over time joints can become scarred and deformed which makes it more difficult for the person to use that part of the body (for example, arthritis of the hands can make it difficult for people to open bottles or hold objects). People experience pain in different ways; some describe arthritic pain as stabbing while others describe it as a constant dull ache. Referred pain is not uncommon, that is where pain originates in one part of the body (say the shoulder) but is experienced in another (such as the hip). Generally most people experience good and bad days.

Arthritis Diagnosis

Arthritis diagnosis: As arthritis is not a diagnosis in itself, it can take a doctor time to determine an exact cause. Sometimes a diagnosis can be reached by taking a patient's medical history and listing of symptoms alone. In other instances a medical examination and certain blood tests will be necessary. Studies show that an early diagnosis can lead to fewer joint deformities and the need for replacement surgery later.

Arthritis Treatment

Treatment will depend on the form of arthritis diagnosed. Most forms of chronic inflammatory arthritis are treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and/or corticosteroids. Those with an inflammatory condition such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis are likely to be referred to a rheumatologist consultant. Those with more 'mechanical' types of arthritis, like osteoarthritis, are less likely to require a referral. Occasionally an orthopedic surgeon may recommend having a joint replaced with a false one called a prosthesis (a procedure known as arthroplasty). Other forms of arthritis treatment include gentle massage and exercise which allows the full range of body movement without stressing the joints (such as swimming). Some people find that physical therapies provide enough pain relief to allow them to avoid taking medications. See also: Natural treatment for arthritis.

Arthritis Prevention

As experts are not clear about the cause(s) of arthritis, there can be no clear way to prevent the problem. However, given that some of the risk factors associated with arthritis can be influenced by a person's behavior, there are some tips for preventing it. These include:

1. Maintaining a healthy weight. Doctors consider a body mass index (BMI) of 20 to 25 as ideal.
2. Ensure you consume enough calcium and vitamin D which are essential for good bone and joint health.
3. Eat a healthy diet: Some foods may make symptoms worse (e.g. Coffee, sodas, cakes, pastries etc).
4. Exercise regularly, something like swimming, walking and biking are good options.

Note there is no evidence that any special diet or 'miracle cures' like copper bracelets have any preventative effect on arthritis. However certain types of arthritis equipment can help make every day life a little easier.

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