Although the term literally means "joint inflammation," arthritis really refers to a group of more than 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints. If left undiag-nosed and untreated, arthritis can cause irreversible damage to the joints. There are two forms of this disease: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis, previously known as degenerative joint disease, results from the wear and tear of life. The pressure of gravity and extensive use causes physical damage to the joints and surrounding tissues, leading to pain, tenderness, and swelling. Initially, osteoarthritis is noninflammatory and its onset is subtle and gradual, usually involving one or only a few joints. The joints most often affected are the knee, hip, and hand. Pain is the earliest symptom, usually made worse by repetitive use. Osteoarthritis affects 21 million people in the United States, and the risk of getting it increases with age. Other risk factors include joint trauma, obesity, and repetitive joint use; examples of the latter include pitcher's elbow and the hip-joint difficulties that professional dancers develop as they grow old.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body's own immune system mistakenly attacks the synovium (cell lining inside the joint). This chronic, potentially disabling disease causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of function in the joints. The causes of this disease are unclear but could involve a mutation that affects the glycocalyx of the synovium, leading to an immune attack. This mechanism is similar to that proposed for the death of neurons in AD. Rheumatoid arthritis is much rarer than osteoarthritis, affecting about 2 million people in the United States. This disease affects women much more than men (the difference is twofold to threefold) and has led many scientists to suggest it is related to the decline of estrogen levels that occurs in women after menopause. Current treatment involves hormone supplements, but this can place the patient at high risk of developing breast or uterine cancer.

Arthritis Relief Now

Arthritis Relief Now

When you hear the word arthritis, images of painful hands and joints comes into play. Few people fully understand arthritis and this guide is dedicated to anyone suffering with this chronic condition and wants relief now.

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