Arthritis

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					                                           Focus on …                                  Arthritis
                                     What is arthritis?
                                     Arthritis is a chronic disease, mainly char-
                                     acterised by inflammation of the lining, or
                                     synovium, of the joints. It can lead to
                                     long-term joint damage, resulting in
                                     chronic pain, loss of function and disabil-
                                     ity. There are many types of arthritis
                                     (over 100 and growing). The types range
                                     from those related to wear and tear of
                                     cartilage (such as osteoarthritis) to those
                                     associated with inflammation resulting
                                     from an overactive immune system (such
                                     as rheumatoid arthritis). Together, the
                                     many types of arthritis make up the most
                                     common chronic illness in the United
PO Box 1544                          States.
Millerton
7435                                 What causes arthritis?
                                     The causes of arthritis depend on the
                                     form of arthritis. Causes include injury
Phone :     (021) 555-2881           (leading to osteoarthritis), metabolic ab-
Fax :       (021) 555-2888           normalities (such as gout and pseudog-
E-mail :    director@apd-wc.org.za   out), hereditary factors, infections, and
Website :   www.apd-wc.org.za        unclear reasons (such as rheumatoid
                                     arthritis and systemic lupus erythemato-
                                     sus). Arthritis is classified as one of the
ShareCall : 0861 APD INFO            rheumatic diseases. These are conditions
             0861 273 4636           that are different individual illnesses,
                                     with differing features, treatments, com-
                                     plications, and prognoses. They are simi-
                                     lar in that they have a tendency to affect
                                     the joints, muscles, ligaments, cartilage,
                                     and tendons, and many have the poten-          confined to a few specific joints in the
                                     tial to affect other internal body areas.      body. The cartilage `cushion' deteriorates
                                                                                    resulting in pain and loss of movement
                                     What are symptoms of arthritis?                as bone rubs against bone, and the
                                     Symptoms of arthritis include pain and         bones underneath becoming rough. The
                                     limited function of joints. Inflammation of    joint normally heals itself but in very few
                                     the joints from arthritis is characterized     cases results in severe damage and de-
                                     by joint stiffness, swelling, redness, and     formity.
                                     warmth. Tenderness of the inflamed joint
                                     can be present. Many of the forms of           On the other hand Rheumatoid arthritis,
                                     arthritis, because they are rheumatic          found in about six percent of all reported
More information                     diseases, can cause symptoms affecting         cases, can affect the entire body result-
                                     various organs of the body that do not         ing in general fatigue and formation of
                                     directly involve the joints. Therefore,        lumps under the skin called "rheumatoid
   Arthritis Foundation              symptoms in some patients with certain         nodules". This kind of arthritis afflicts
      (021) 425-4738                 forms of arthritis can also include fever,     three times more women than men and
                                     gland swelling (lymph node), weight loss,      can make a person ill. Rheumatoid ar-
  julie@arthritis.org.za             fatigue, feeling unwell, and even symp-        thritis (RA) progresses in three stages.
                                     toms from abnormalities of organs such         The first stage is the swelling of the syno-
                                     as the lungs, heart, or kidneys.               vial lining, causing pain, warmth, stiff-
                                                                                    ness, redness and swelling around the
                                     What is the prevalence of arthritis?           joint. Second is the rapid division and
                                     Arthritis, which literally means               growth of cells, or pannus, which causes
                                     "inflamation of a joint", is the number        the synovium to thicken. In the third
                                     one disabling disease in South Africa,         stage, the inflamed cells release en-
                                     affecting an estimated one in every            zymes that may digest bone and carti-
                                     seven people. Arthritis is not infectious      lage, often causing the involved joint to
                                     but can be inherited from one generation       lose its shape and alignment, more pain,
                                     to the next through genes. Osteoarthritis      and loss of movement.
                                     (OA) is the commonest joint disease and
                                     its prevalence increases with age so that      Gout and fibromyalgia are also forms of
                                     more than 50 percent of older people           arthritis.
                                     over 65-years of age have clinical evi-
                                     dence of OA. Worldwide, OA affects ap-
                                     proximately 40 million people. Arthritis       How is arthritis treated?
                                     sufferers include men and women, chil-         The treatment of arthritis is very depend-
                                     dren and adults. Approximately 350 mil-        ent on the precise type of arthritis pre-
                                     lion people worldwide have arthritis.          sent. An accurate diagnosis increases the
                  adding             Nearly 40 million people in the United
                                     States are affected by arthritis, including
                                                                                    chances for successful treatment. Treat-
                                                                                    ments available include physical therapy,
                                     over a quarter million children!               splinting, cold pack application, paraffin
                   value                                                            wax dips, antiinflammation medications,
                                                                                    immune-altering medications, and surgi-
                                     Types of arthritis
                       to            The general term, arthritis actually in-
                                                                                    cal operations. Arthritis can be managed
                                                                                    through a range of treatments from keep-
                                     cludes more than a hundred related but         ing a balance between rest and exercise,
                    lives            distinct diseases. Osteoarthritis, which
                                     means the wearing down of the surface
                                                                                    the gentle use of the afflicted joint, drug
                                                                                    therapy, mainly for relief of pain and to
                                     of a joint, is a `local disease' which is      increase mobility.

				
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