Arthritis

Definition - What does Arthritis mean?

Arthritis is a musculoskeletal disorder characterized by inflammation around the body's joints. A joint being where two bones in the body meet. Arthritis may be caused by the break down of the cartilage that cushions the ends a bone or by an autoimmune disorder that attacks the lining of the joints. Other, less common, forms of arthritis are caused by certain infections and metabolic disorders. Sufferers of arthritis may experience joint stiffness and pain. The condition often worsens over time. Arthritis is a leading cause of adult disability but can affect people of any age.

WorkplaceTesting explains Arthritis

The term arthritis is used to refer to a number of conditions that cause joint pain or inflammation. The two most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative form of arthritis in which the cartilage needed to cushion the joints degrades or wears away. Without cartilage, the bones of the affected rub again each other resulting in pain and swelling. Over time, the joint may stiffen and lose mobility.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a form of inflammatory arthritis. This form of arthritis is trigger by the immune system's attack on the body's tissue. Inflammatory types of arthritis can cause not only damage to the body's joints but also to the internal organs and eyes. Psoriasis and lupus may trigger arthritis pain.

Infectious arthritis may be caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses that attack the joints. Conditions such as hepatitis C or salmonella may trigger this type of arthritis.

Gout is a type of arthritis trigger by the body's failure to adequately dispose of uric acid. When the body does not metabolize the uric acid quickly enough, the sharp crystal-like substance collects in the joints. Gout can cause extreme bouts of pain and may become chronic if untreated.

Treatment for arthritis varies depending on the cause of the condition. Diet and lifestyle changes may alleviate some causes and symptoms of the disease. Pain medications and anti-inflammatory medications are also commonly used to treat arthritis. In some cases, aggressive treatment of the underlying disease is necessary to prevent further damage to the joints.

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