More than fifty million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or some other condition causing pain and/or inflammation in the joints. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, American workers lose more time to arthritic pain than to any other affliction. The chances of developing arthritis increase the more sedentary you become.
- Osteoarthritis develops as the cartilage at the ends of the bones, at the joints, wears away.
- Friction is caused by the roughening of the cartilage. The cartilage deteriorates as the once-smooth surfaces are no longer able to slide easily against each other. Tendons, ligaments and muscles keeping the joints in place weaken, and the joint becomes stiff, deformed and painful.
- Osteoarthritis makes bones brittle, thus increasing the risk for fractures.
- Osteocytes, or bone spurs, develop near the worn-away cartilage in the neck and back, but can only be detected with an X-ray.
- Osteoarthritis most typically occurs after 40, and can be found in the majority of people over 60.
- Symptoms can be mild to severe and develop in three times as many women than men.
- Rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis develop when the immune system attacks the synovial membrane (lines the joints and secretes lubricating fluid) because it mistakes the membrane for a foreign body.
- The joints then become inflamed, and the cartilage, tissues and bone surfaces are destroyed.
- Scar tissue develops, causing the bones to fuse together. Joints become gnarled and deformed.
- Rheumatoid arthritis, also called rheumatism or synovitis, affects people from ages 25-50 with women developing it two to three times more than men.
- Damage can progress to the muscles, heart, eyes, lungs, and nerves.
- This damage can also occur in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis sufferers who are made up of those 18 and under, with six times as many girls as boys afflicted.
- While infectious arthritis is not as common as other types of arthritis, it can cause substantial damage to joints if not treated properly.