Arthritis is more than pain or swelling in the joints

A pair of hands
A pair of hands (Photo credit: Towfiqu barbhuiya)

The joint disease, arthritis, sometimes referred to as joint pain, has various classifications among different age groups and other chronic diseases share the same symptoms. Arthritis, “is the inflammation of the joints,” as the medical term literally means, says Dr. Keith Campbell, the Head of Internal Medicine, at the May Pen Hospital. Arthritis affects the joints, the place in which bones are connected. The bones are not directly affected, but “it is the buildup of fluid in the soft tissue surrounding the joints,” that results in the inflammation of the joint or swelling, that results in pain, records the Medical Encyclopedia. Some examples of the joints are the knee and elbow, which are mobile because of the surrounding tissues.

According to Dr. Campbell, the various types of arthritis range from osteoarthritis, which is usually seen in the elderly, inflammatory arthritis in young people, rheumatoid arthritis popular in women, and gout, which is often identified in middle age. However, “the most prevalent and degenerative, (progressive breaking down), type of arthritis, is osteoarthritis,” said  Campbell. “It is also predominantly found in the elderly,” he added.

“Osteoarthritis is characterized by the breakdown of the joint’s cartilage. Cartilage is the part of the joint that cushions the ends of bones. Cartilage breakdown causes bones to rub against each other, causing pain and loss of movement,” notes Jamaica’s National Health Fund (NHF).

Maureen Baker (not her name) is an elderly patient living with arthritis, who experiences constant pain within the knees. “My right knee aches and sounds as if it is crying when I walk or lift it up,” she says. However, she was not informed of the type of arthritis and has been diagnosed with the disease for many years.

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According to the Arthritis Foundation, “inflammatory arthritis describes conditions characterized by pain, swelling, tenderness and warmth in the joints, as well as morning stiffness that lasts for more than an hour.” The symptoms related to inflammatory arthritis is also very common within elderlies. In addition to this, the disease “usually affects the area in or around joints, such as muscles and tendons and some of these diseases can also affect other parts of the body, including the skin and internal organs,” advises the NHF.

Other classifications of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and gout. The World Health Organization (WHO) says rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition that affects multiple joints and is more prevalent among women, while gout is very painful. The classifications may not be important to some patients, as other chronic diseases are ridden with arthritis like symptoms. One example is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or lupus, which. according to the CDC, is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks its own tissues, causing widespread inflammation and tissue damage in the affected organs. Andrea Fuller (not her name) has been diagnosed with lupus and experiences constant joint pain.

However, arthritis patients must “get early checkups, modify diet and take prescription medications,” says Campbell.

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