What Is Arthritis
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Arthritis is a common condition affecting the joints, causing inflammation and pain. There are many types with a range of symptoms but two of the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Although it depends on what type of arthritis you have, common symptoms can include; inflammation on and around the joints, with warm red skin over the affected joint, restricted joint movement, weakness and muscle wasting and tender, stiff joints.

Osteoarthritis often develops in people over 50, although it can affect people of any age (sometimes due to an injury), and is caused by the cartilage between joints gradually wasting away and leading to a painful rubbing of bone on bone. Almost any joint can be affected, but most commonly are the knees, the hips, spine and hands. It is far more common in women than men. Its exact cause is unknown, but factors such as being obese, being older, having a family history or having another form of arthritis such as gout have been known to increase the likelihood of developing it.

Rheumatoid arthritis is also more common in women than men, often developing around age 40-50, and is more severe but less common than osteoarthritis. It occurs when the immune system attacks the affected joints, causing them to swell and become painful.

There is no cure for arthritis, but there are several ways of managing it to slow down the progression of the condition and relieve the symptoms. Depending on its severity, treatment for osteoarthritis can range from painkillers, non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids, to surgeries including joint replacements, joint fusion and osteotomy, where a joint is cut and then realigned. Regular exercise is vitally important as it helps maintain your level of mobility by increasing your muscle strength, therefore strengthening joints. Exercise also alleviates symptoms by improving posture, and weight loss which takes weight off damaged joints. It is important to stick to a plan set out by your healthcare provider as there is a chance that incorrect exercise could worsen your condition. For rheumatoid arthritis the aim is to slow down its progression, with regular exercise, physiotherapy and anti-rheumatic drugs.

Again, this condition comes in so many forms, many affecting other parts of the body including eyes and urethra, and other tissues like muscles and ligaments. Although associated with older people many types affect children, and are referred to as ‘Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis’. Lupus is an autoimmune condition which includes arthritis, and gout, where joints are affected by deposits of uric acid in the joints.

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