Arthritis is a general term used to describe joint pain or joint disease.
Actually, there are more than 100 varieties of arthritis and related conditions. This disease does not discriminate: all ages, sexes, races, and ethnicities are afflicted with arthritis. As the USA’s leading cause of disability, over 50 million adults and 300,000 children have one of the 100 varieties of this disease and related conditions. It is more common in women than men, and is more frequently diagnosed as people age. Common symptoms, which may be sporadic, include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. The level of pain can be mild, moderate or severe. The pain level may remain stable for a number of years, but may escalate after a long period of time. Severe arthritis pain is debilitating, causing chronic pain, the inability to perform daily tasks, and cause the inability to walk or climb stairs.
Arthritis can permanently disfigure joints which may be visible to the naked eye, such as gnarled finger joints.
However, most often, the damage is exclusively visible by X-ray. In addition to affecting the joints, more debilitating types of arthritis impinge on the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys or skin. According to the Arthritis Foundation, the most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is characterized with the loss of cartilage, where bone rubs against bone, causing significant chronic pain and swelling, accompanied by stiffness. Risk factors that cause arthritis are: family history, previous injury, age, and obesity. Inflammatory Arthritis, Infectious Arthritis, and Metabolic Arthritis are three classifications of the disease, which have far more complicated causes and treatments than osteoarthritis.