Learn more about arthri­tis

More than 100 med­i­cal con­di­tions fall un­der head­ing

The Covington News - - MEDICAL UPDATE -

As most mid­dle- aged men and women would at­test, an ag­ing body is one that ex­pe­ri­ences more than a few changes.

Among the more com­mon changes is a de­crease in vi­sion or hear­ing and a re­duc­tion in how much ex­er­cise the body can take.

While ev­ery­one’s body is dif­fer­ent, it’s safe to say both men and women can ex­pect a change or two in their body’s makeup as they get older.

One of the most com­mon chronic health prob­lems among Amer­i­cans is arthri­tis, which af­fects 46 mil­lion adults in the United States alone. While most peo­ple are aware of the word “ arthri­tis,” they might not be aware of the specifics sur­round­ing th­ese con­di­tions.

What is arthri­tis?

Un­be­knownst to many peo­ple, arthri­tis is not ac­tu­ally a sin­gle dis­ease. In fact, arthri­tis refers to more than 100 med­i­cal con­di­tions.

And though arthri­tis is com­monly as­so­ci­ated with se­nior cit­i­zens, it is not re­stricted to the older set. While the most com­mon form of arthri­tis gen­er­ally af­flicts those over the age of 60, young adults, the mid­dle- aged and even in­fants are not im­mune to arthri­tis.

So why is arthri­tis such a blan­ket term? All types of arthri­tis share one com­mon­al­ity, which is they af­fect the mus­cu­loskele­tal sys­tem, in par­tic­u­lar the body’s joints.

Arthritic con­di­tions can re­sult in pain, stiff­ness and in­flam­ma­tion of the joints and can cause dam­age to a joint’s car­ti­lage as well. Dam­aged car­ti­lage can make seem­ingly or­di­nary tasks such as brush­ing your teeth, walk­ing or even us­ing your com­puter’s key­board very dif­fi­cult.

While joint prob­lems are the piece that links all types of arthri­tis, the dam­age done by arthri­tis can ex­tend be­yond the joints as well. Sys­temic arthri­tis can af­fect the body’s ma­jor or­gans, such as the heart, lungs and kid­neys, among other things.

Who gets arthri­tis?

Ac­cord­ing to the Arthri­tis Foun­da­tion, more than half those af­fected with arthri­tis are un­der the age of 65. Those num­bers in­clude the nearly 300,000 chil­dren who suf­fer from an arthritic con­di­tion.

As for men and women, women are more likely to be stricken with arthri­tis. Of the more than 41 mil­lion cases of doc­tor- di­ag­nosed arthri­tis, roughly 24 mil­lion are women.

Types of arthri­tis?

Though there are more than 100 med­i­cal con­di­tions clas­si­fied un­der the um­brella term arthri­tis, the fol­low­ing types are a few that qual­ify.

• Rheumatoid arthri­tis: This af­fects mostly women and is one of the most dis­abling forms of arthri­tis. It’s se­ri­ous be­cause, as the joint be­comes in­flamed, it has an ad­verse af­fect on the body’s im­mune sys­tem.

• Ju­ve­nile arthri­tis: Like the term “ arthri­tis,” ju­ve­nile arthri­tis is a gen­eral term and refers to a hand­ful of arthritic con­di­tions af­fect­ing chil­dren.

• Fi­bromyal­gia: This can be very painful, af­fect­ing the mus­cles and at­tach­ments to the bone. Rare in men, fi­bromyal­gia mainly af­fects women.

• Gout: Un­like fi­bromyal­gia, gout af­fects mostly men and is of­ten the re­sult of a de­fect in body chem­istry, one that can be brought on by poor diet. For­tu­nately, gout, which of­ten at­tacks the big toe, can typ­i­cally be con­trolled by both med­i­ca­tions and by mak­ing pos­i­tive changes in diet.

• Os­teoarthri­tis: This oc­curs as bone car­ti­lage be­gins to de­te­ri­o­rate. As the car­ti­lage at the ends of bones de­te­ri­o­rates, bone be­gins to rub against bone, mak­ing os­teoarthri­tis one of the more painful and dif­fi­cult to live with forms of arthri­tis. The most preva­lent form of arthri­tis, os­teoarthri­tis greatly lim­its a per­son’s move­ments as the car­ti­lage con­tin­ues to de­te­ri­o­rate.

To learn more about arthri­tis and its many forms, visit the Arthri­tis Foun­da­tion Web site at www. arthri­tis. org.

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