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 : email@example.com 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- firstname.lastname@example.org 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.