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Osteoarthritis
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Osteoarthritis (OA) - Joint inflammation

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ARTHRITIS DISEASE

Joint Inflammation

 

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Osteoarthritis (OA) is the commonest form of joint disease. It is generally considered to be due to "wear and tear" of the joints leading to damage of the joint surfaces which gives pain on movement.

There are many factors influencing its development , including a family history of OA and previous damage to the joint through injury or surgery. OA is very common in older age groups, but can affect younger people too.

The word arthritis is a blend of the Greek words arthron, for joint, and itis, for inflammation. In other words, arthritis literally means "joint inflammation." Although arthritis is often referred to as one disease, it's not. Arthritis has more than 100 forms.

Osteoarthritis, sometimes called degenerative joint disease or osteoarthrosis, is the most common form of arthritis. It's characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage and may affect any joint in your body, including those in your fingers, hips, knees, lower back and feet. Initially it may strike only one joint. But if your fingers are affected, multiple hand joints may become arthritic.

There's no cure for osteoarthritis, but treatments today are far ahead of what was available just a few years ago. In addition, how well you live with arthritis often depends on your actions and attitude. If you actively manage your arthritis, you may be able to gain control over your pain.

Definition   

Arthritis involves inflammation of one or more joints and the breakdown of cartilage. Cartilage normally protects the joint, allowing for smooth movement. Cartilage also absorbs shock when pressure is placed on the joint, like when you walk or otherwise bear weight. Without the usual amount of cartilage, the bones rub together, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors   

You may have joint inflammation for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Broken bone
  • Infection (usually caused by bacteria or viruses)
  • An autoimmune disease (the body attacks itself because the immune system believes a body part is foreign)
  • General "wear and tear" on joints

Often, the inflammation goes away after the injury has healed, the disease is treated, or the infection has been cleared.

With some injuries and diseases, the inflammation does not go away or destruction results in long-term pain and deformity. When this happens, you have chronic arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type and is more likely to occur as you age. You may feel it in any of your joints, but most commonly in your hips, knees or fingers. Risk factors for osteoarthritis include:

  • Being overweight
  • Previously injuring the affected joint
  • Using the affected joint in a repetitive action that puts stress on the joint (baseball players, ballet dancers, and construction workers are all at risk)
Arthritis can occur in men and women of all ages. About 37 million people in America have arthritis of some kind, which is almost 1 out of every 7 people.

Other types or cause of arthritis include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (in adults)
  • Juvenile Rheumatoid arthritis (in children)
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • gout
  • Scleroderma
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Reiter's syndrome (reactive arthritis)
  • Adult Still's disease
  • Viral arthritis
  • Gonococcal arthritis
  • Other bacterial infections (non-gonococcal bacterial arthritis)
  • Tertiary Lyme disease (the late stage)
  • Tuberculous arthritis
  • Fungal infections such as blastomycosis

Symptoms   

If you have arthritis, you may experience:
  • Joint pain
  • Joint swelling
  • Stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Warmth around a joint
  • Redness of the skin around a joint
  • Reduced ability to move the joint

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Signs and tests   

First, your doctor will take a detailed medical history to see if arthritis or another musculoskeletal problem is the likely cause of your symptoms.

Next, a thorough physical examination may show that fluid is collecting around the joint. (This is called an "effusion.") The joint may be tender when it is gently pressed, and may be warm and red (especially in infectious arthritis and autoimmune arthritis). It may be painful or difficult to rotate the joints in some directions. This is known as "limited range-of-motion."

In some autoimmune forms of arthritis, the joints may become deformed if the disease is not treated. Such joint deformities are the hallmarks of severe, untreated rheumatoid arthritis.

Tests vary depending on the suspected cause. They often include blood tests and joint x-rays. To check for infection and other causes of arthritis (like gout caused by crystals), joint fluid is removed from the joint with a needle and examined under a microscope. See the specific types of arthritis for further information.

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Disclaimer

This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

 

 



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Last Modified : 05/14/08 07:40 AM