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Sunday, October 16, 2005

What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is probably one of the most misunderstood of all diseases. Quite honestly if you ask the average person in the street exactly what arthritis is you won't get an answer that's even close. All they know is that something hurts but don't have a clue as to exactly what or why.

Before I go into the types and causes of arthritis I'm just going to throw some facts at you. All of this can be gotten at the official web site if you look hard enough for it.

1. In 1985 about 35 million people were diagnosed with arthritis. Twenty years later the number is up to over 65 million.

2. Arthritis is the most common disability of Americans over the age of 15. Yes, young people can get arthritis.

3. Only heart disease is a greater cause of work disability.

4. The cost for treating arthritis in the US alone is over 86 billion dollars each year.

5. Over 300,000 children have arthritis.

6. Half the people who have arthritis think there is nothing that can be done for the condition.

7. There are actually over 100 different diseases associated with arthritis.

8. Woman are more affected than men. The current numbers are 26 million women and 16 million men with doctor diagnosed arthritis.

How many of us knew all this? I certainly didn't until doing some research. Oh I knew about the poor lady in my church who's about to go in for knee replacement surgery and lives on pain killers. But I had no idea this disease was this common.

So what IS arthritis?

A book can be written on the various forms of arthritis but the most common MYTH of what arthritis is, aches and pains associated with getting older, needs to be dispelled with quickly if people are going to understand the disease. As I stated earlier, arthritis has nothing to do with age as many children get it. Yes, it is more prevalent in older people but it is not restricted to the elderly. Arthritis is a disease of the skeletal system, mostly the joints which is where two or more bones meet. Joint problems include pain, stiffness, inflammation, and damage to the joint cartilage, which is the tough, smooth tissue that covers the ends of the bones so that they can glide against each other. It is the deterioration of this tissue that causes the pain because what happens is you get bone rubbing against bone. The pain can become so bad that it can interfere with everyday activities such as walking or even trying to stand up from a chair.

However this is only one form of arthritis and only part of the problem. Some forms of arthritis, called Rheumatoid arthritis effects the body's immune system and can ultimately end up damaging the heart, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels and skin.

This is the most serious form of arthritis.

In my next article I am going to cover various treatments for arthritis and their side effects.

by Michael Russell


At 9:29 AM, Blogger Rod Pendergrass said...

I enjoyed reading some of your posts. I have a knitting instructions site. You can find everything about knitting instructions as well as knitting stitches, needles, machines, magazines and more. Come and check it out if you get time :-)


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