Arthritis is the inflammation
of one or more joints and is characterized by pain, swelling, stiffness,
deformity and/or diminished range of motion.
The two most common
forms are arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis
is the result of the deterioration of the cartilage that covers the
ends of the bones and is most prevalent in people after forty years
of age. It is a degenerative joint disease or DJD that is sometimes
caused by injury or a defect in the protein that makes up cartilage.
In most cases it is simply the result of aging. When the once smooth
surface of the cartilage begins to break down, the surfaces which would
normally slide against one another become pitted and irregular. As
the tendons, ligaments and muscles that hold the joint together become
weaker, the joint itself becomes deformed, painful and stiff. Pain
often accompanies osteoarthritis, but there is little or no swelling.
rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis are types of
inflammatory arthritis which most commonly occur in people under forty
years of age. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which
the body's immune system improperly identifies the membranes that secrete
the lubricating fluid in the joints as foreign. Inflammation results,
and the cartilage and tissues in and around the joints are damaged
or destroyed. In many cases the bone surfaces themselves can be destroyed
as well. The body replaces the damaged tissue with scar tissue, eventually
causing the spaces between the joints to become narrow at which point
the bones fuse together. Rheumatoid arthritis creates anaemia, fever,
weight loss, fatigue, stiffness, swelling and often crippling pain.