Arthritis actually means “joint inflammation” and has over 100 related conditions or type / forms of disease. Left untreated, it can advance, resulting in joint damage that cannot be undone or reversed. So early detection and treatment are important.
The two most common types of arthritis are Osteoarthritis (OA), and Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Although both have similar symptoms, both happen for different reasons.
There are two types of osteoarthritis: primary and secondary. Primary OA is due to an unhealthy aging process and generally considered “wear and tear”. The disease usually progresses over many years. Secondary osteoarthritis is the less common of the two. It usually has a direct cause such as trauma, injury, surgery, infection or prolonged use of medications.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues (autoimmune response). Joints (commonly in the hand) become tender, swollen, and even deformed. Over time, the condition can also spread to other organs of the body and can lead to crippling. In addition to joint stiffness, possible symptoms can include night sweats, depression, lethargy, and low-grade fever.
Both OA and RA generally develop symmetrically, i.e. affecting the same joints on both the left and right sides of the body.
A difference in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis that people note is with what they feel about the swelling. With RA, people report “soft and squishy” swelling. While with OA, people report “hard and bony” swelling.
While neither gender is immune, a reported 74 percent of OA cases (or just over 15 million) occur with women and a slightly lower percentage of RA cases occur with women.
People with excess weight tend to develop OA, especially in the knees when reaching over 45 years of age. However, losing weight can turn the odds around almost by half. Regular activity combined with exercise also reduces risk, strengthening joint muscles and reducing joint wear.
OTHER COMMON TYPES OF ARTHRITIS
After osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), three other less prevalent types of arthritis are gout, ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and psoriatic arthritis. Let’s take a quick look at each.
Gout – Gout is a common type of arthritis caused by a buildup in the body of uric acid, which is found in meats and some other foods. When the level of uric acid rises to unhealthy levels in the body, it crystallizes in the joint cartilage and synovial tissue and fluid, causing sharp, needle-like pain in the joints, as well as fever, chills, and loss of mobility.
The condition is primarily a disease of men over age 30. In at least half of gout cases, the first attack is characterized by intense pain in the first joint of the big toe. If the attack progresses, fever and chills will appear. Initial gout attacks usually strike at night and are preceded by a specific event such as excessive alcohol ingestion, trauma, certain drugs, or surgery. Kidney stones and other kidney problems are present in 90% of gout sufferers, because urate crystals also accumulate in the kidneys.
Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) – This form of arthritis primarily affects the spine and over time causes symptoms that include a severe stooping posture, lower back pain and inflexibility.
Psoriatic Arthritis – This condition occurs in one out of ten patients who have the skin condition psoriasis and develops over a 10 to 20 year period. It includes swelling in many joints, but especially in the fingers and toes.
The exact science of what actually causes arthritis is still being researched. For most of the 100-plus forms of arthritis, the causes are unknown. Heredity, drugs, toxins, food allergies, viruses, and stress have been linked to some forms of arthritis. Also, bad diet, poor circulation and lack of movement.
Although there are no magic “cure-alls” for arthritis, there are a variety of pain relief treatment strategies.
The primary keys for treating and preventing arthritis are detoxification, proper diet and nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction.