Arthritis is pain or inflammation of the joints and the tissues supporting them. This term, as well as rheumatism, is applied not to just one but to a whole group of diseases, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
According to the WHO, arthritis is the most widespread crippling disease in the world. Over 200 million people have arthritis of some type of arthritis; of these, over 3 million are partly or wholly disabled.
Distressing as these figures are, they still indicate that most people who have arthritis are able to go about their business as usual.
The cartilage is a flexible white tissue or gristle among the joints and in other parts of the body. Cartilage is present in the windpipe, the larynx, the ears and the tip of the nose. It also makes up the disks between the vertebrae of the spinal column.
In general, cartilage improves flexibility, serves as a padding, and prevents friction. The skeleton of the fetus, or unborn infant, is made up of cartilage. Later the cartilage hardens into bone.
A vertebral disk may slip out of position and cause severe backache. The cartilage in the knees may be damaged by an accident; surgery is sometimes required to correct this condition.
A typical disease of old age, osteoarthritis is caused by the wearing away of the cartilage on the bone endings. One end of a bone then rubs against another, and there is stiffness and sometimes pain.
This condition involves the joints of the fingers, big toes, knees, hips, lower spine and other joints exposed to great wear and tear. Osteoarthritis is not as severe as some other arthritis disorders.
Most sufferers find the condition tolerable, but for those who do not, new drugs may alleviate the pain. Also, recently developed surgical techniques enable surgeons to replace old finger, knee, and hip joints with plastic ones.
This disease is much more serious, affecting more than 15 million people worldwide. Most often, it involves the joints of the fingers, wrists and feet. However, any joint may be affected. The membrane that lines the joint may be affected. The membrane that lines the joint become inflamed, and the joint swells up. Eventually the surrounding cartilage is worn away, causing the joint to become exceedingly painful and hard to move.
Neighboring muscles are also affected. If the condition is not treated early, the joint may become immovable. Careful treatment, however, will prevent disability in most persons. The cause of this painful and crippling disorder has not been definitely determined.
Various medications are used with good effect in treating different types of arthritis. Among these are phenylbutazone and sometimes cortisone and other hormones. Salicylate compounds, including aspirin, are beneficial when taken as prescribed.
Heat often brings relief when applied to the troublesome joint. An electric pad, hot compresses, hot tub baths, or infrared tungsten bulb may be useful.
The arthritic should have a bed board under his mattress. Good upright posture, both sitting and standing, is most important. Exercise, as prescribed by the doctor, can help considerably in combating this disorder.
Arthritics are frequently taken in by quack remedies. There are no magic shortcuts to the control of arthritis. Strange electrical devices, special foods, vaccines, radioactive waters at home or abroad, and a thousand and one other ‘miracle cures,’ are often highly touted, but they will only waste your time and money.
Always consult your physician for advice on treatment.
Sources and References
Near-Infrared Fluorescence Imaging-Guided Focused Ultrasound-Mediated Therapy Against Rheumatoid Arthritis by MTX-ICG-Loaded iRGD-Modified Echogenic Liposomes by Haohan Wu, Yanni He et al
Reader’s Digest Family Health Guide and Medical Encyclopedia
Cartilage and Bone Destruction in Arthritis: Pathogenesis and Treatment Strategy: A Literature Review by Daisuke Tateiwa, Hideki Yoshikawa and Takashi Kaito