The word Arthritis means inflammation of the joints. Most people think arthritis is a natural part of aging, however, not all older individuals develop arthritis. Beside possible deformities, arthritis is mainly a pain issue. There are two distinct types of arthritis: Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Osteoarthritis or OA is degenerative or “wear and tear” arthritis. It is a chronic disorder of the cartilage or connective tissue that cushions and protects the surface of bone where they meet to form joints. Symptoms increase with advancing age, repetitive joint use, trauma, family history and obesity. Symptoms include: pain and stiffness in the joint, bony enlargement of the joint, decreased range of motion, soft tissue swelling and occasional accumulation of fluid in the joint. There are non-drug treatments or therapy, such as physical activity, physical therapy, occupational therapy, or using heat or cold on the affected joints. Drug therapy is also an available alternative.
Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA is a chronic inflammatory systemic disease that is characterized by symmetric bone erosion, small joint destruction of hands and feet, and progressive limitation of function. It is more prevalent in women than in men.
Symptoms include: stiffness and pain in small joints of the hands and feet, ankles and elbows, morning stiffness that last longer than an hour, joint deformities such as swan neck deformity as the disease progresses. Redness, heat swelling, and tenderness to the joint may also be present. Goals for treatment are to prevent and limit irreversible joint damage, maximize mobility, and limit pain and depression. Consult your physician for more information.