About 50 million people in the United States suffer from
some form of arthritis. For more than 20 million of these people, the symptoms are severe
enough to cause them to seek medical attention.
Arthritis is not a single disease. The name arthritis means an inflammation of one or more joints.
Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints usually caused
by wear and tear; injury, or infection. Some are genetic. Its causes and consequences are many and varied. The inflammation is often accompanied by pain, swelling, redness and motion limitation. X-rays may show horrifying damage to the joints of people who feel no pain at all, or they may show relatively little damage in people who feel great pain.
There are more than 100 types of
arthritis. There's osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gouty arthritis, psoratic arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, systemic infectious arthritis, arthritis associated with a venereal disease and many others.
The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis,
Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis or wear-and-tear-arthritis,
refers to the pain and inflammation that can result from the systematic loss of bone
tissue in the joints. It is the most common form of arthritis especially in the elderly.
Rheumatoid Arthritis, also known as rheumatism or synovitis, tends to affect people over
40. Women get this two to three times as frequently as men. It is characterized by
inflammation and pain in the hands, especially the knuckles and second joints, as well as
in the arms, legs and feet, and by the general fatigue and sleeplessness. Organs such as
the eyes and lungs may become inflamed as well.
Gout usually occurs in men over 40 and is caused by the elevated blood levels of
uric acid, which forms crystals in the joints. The immune system reacts to these crystals
as if to a foreign invader. The joint, as a result, becomes inflamed and painful.