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Arthritis Relief | Arthritis at a glance | The ABCs of arthritis
In general, arthritis is a disease of the joints and cartilages. To have an understanding of arthritis, you must understand cartilages and joints.
Arthritis Relief | Understanding What Joints Are?
If you want to understand the problems associated with your joints, you need to know what it is and how it functions. What is a joint? A joint is a place in the body where two or more bones meet such as the shoulder or knee. We have over two hundred six bones in our body and each of them is connected with each other with over one hundred fifty joints.
This fact alone provides us amazing flexibility as well as range of motion. The area between the ends of bones allows them from grinding with each other and wearing down with each other. The joint is wrapped by a capsule which has a special lining called the synovium or synovial membrane. This produces a glossy and slippery liquid called synovial fluid which fills the spaces in between the ends of the bones.
Bones are also essential for the understanding of joints since they are the very things connected by them. Bones are practically living tissues which are porous and very hard. It has nerves and a blood supply that is regularly rebuilt and provides adequate support to our body’s structure. Cartilages too are essential parts of the body. They are the very things that form like a cap at the end of every bone.
It is tough and slick and rubbery. It is 8 times as slippery as ice and absorbs more shock than tire or car springs. Thus, it is indeed a fact that the cartilage is the ultimate cushion of the joints and bones. It also provides smooth movement to the bones. Cartilages are very much important for our joints to function effectively especially when it comes to bearing weight just like the knee. Our cartilage is made up of sixty five percent to eighty five percent water.
Tendon are what attach the muscles to the bones. These are fibrous and flexible tissues. They also help providing stability to the joints. Ligaments too are important aspects to discuss since they are the ones that bind joints together. The bursae are what supplement some joints. These are tiny sacs that are filled with fluid and these aids in cushioning the joints to minimize friction.
Arthritis happens when any of the parts mentioned above do not function well or are not produced adequately. Arthritis happens when our body’s joints are swollen or are inflamed. This lead to the breakdown of a cartilage in the affected joint. When a cartilage breaks down in joints, the end of both bones rub together producing pain and leading to stiffness and swelling. This is why anyone who suspects to have joint paint has to go to the doctor immediately in order for the symptoms to be treated and managed well.
Arthritis Relief | What are cartilages?
Cartilage is a slippery tissue that layers the bones in the body and a cushion in the joint that protects the joint from the pressure and the shock of movement making the movement painless.
Arthritis Relief | What is arthritis?
Most of the time, arthritis creeps up on us. Initially, you may feel stiffness in your joints, especially if the weather is cold or it has been raining.
If you are reading this article you may suspect that you may have arthritis. Your joints may feel stiff, and your muscles ache. You may find yourself unable to do simple everyday tasks without a little discomfort.
Arthritis Relief | There are about 200 different musculoskeletal conditions, which fall into 5 main groups:
This is a condition where your body’s immune system produces inflammation that causes joints to become swollen and damaged. This can often occurs for no obvious reason. It can then affect ligaments surrounding the swollen joint.
For example, in osteoarthritis, the inflammation arises because the articular cartilage on the ends of bones has worn away. In rheumatoid arthritis, the joint lining becomes inflamed as part of a systemic disease. Inflammatory arthritis stiffness and pain usually appears first thing in the morning and after sitting still for a while. This distinguishes it from degenerative arthritis, in which the pain worsens at the end of the day and with activity.
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect people of all ages. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known. While rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic illness, meaning it can last for years, patients may experience long periods without symptoms. However, rheumatoid arthritis is typically a progressive illness that has the potential to cause joint destruction and functional disability.
Degenerative or mechanical arthritis
This type of arthritis is caused by inflammation, breakdown, and eventual loss of the cartilage of the joints. The cartilage, which covers the ends of the bones, becomes damaged. The bone underneath then tries to repair this damage but sometimes overgrows, altering the shape of your joint.
Degenerative arthritis is the most common form of arthritis, usually affecting the hands, feet, spine, and large weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees. It is more common in older people.
Degenerative arthritis is also known as osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease.
Soft tissue musculoskeletal pain
This type of arthritis defines pain felt in the muscles or soft tissues supporting your joints, including the bursa. This type of pain often affects one particular part of your body following an injury or overuse, for example tennis elbow. Sometimes the pain is more widespread and, if associated with other symptoms, could be diagnosed as fibromyalgia. Often the causes of these symptoms are poorly understood.
Muscle and ligament, and other soft-tissue pain, or musculoskeletal pain, is a leading cause of chronic disability. It can be caused by injury or inflammation due to sports, work or common everyday activities, osteoarthritis, tendonitis and nerve irritation or inflammation.
Back pain is a common complaint affecting most of us at some point in our lives. Back pain itself is not usually a sign of arthritis and is often a short-term problem. However, long-term back pain may have a complex cause such as organ problems; known as "referred pain". Sometimes there is a specific cause such as osteoarthritis (or spondylosis when it occurs in the spine), a ‘slipped’ disc, or osteoporosis. In most cases you can not identify the exact cause of the pain; this is known as ‘non-specific’ or simple back pain.
Connective tissue disease (CTD)
Connective tissue disease (CTD) affects the tissues that support, bind or separate your other body tissues and organs. This includes tendons, ligaments and cartilage. It may affect your joints but muscles, lungs, skin and kidneys can also be affected. You may therefore feel a range of other symptoms besides painful joints. The disease can affect many organs.
The specific causes of most CTD are not known. However, there are genetic patterns that are considered to increase the risk for developing connective tissue diseases. It is likely that a combination of genetic risks and environmental factors are necessary for the development of connective tissue disease.
If you suspect that you may have arthritis, it is essential that you seek a medical diagnosis to determine whether you do have arthritis, and if so, what type of arthritis you may have in order to receive the correct treatment.
Arthritis Relief | What causes arthritis?
When the cartilage is broken down or the joints in the body are inflamed, arthritis occurs. When the cartilage is worn or breaks down, the bones begin to hit one another, rubbing together without the protective cartilage resulting in stiffness, swelling and pain.
Two most common types of arthritis
■1) Osteoarthritis : Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis among adults living with arthritis. It is a form of arthritis that is often a result of wear and tear of the joints that begin to wear out as a person ages. The disease may also be a result of an injury. The most common places on the body for osteoarthritis to strike are in the hands, hips and knees. The condition causes the joints to thicken and ache. The joint tissues may become strained and cause more pain.
■2) Rheumatoid arthritis : Rheumatoid arthritis is a result of a poor immune system. The immune system is responsible for helping to protect the body against infection. The immune system begins to attack the body’s healthy tissues, causing an inflammation and pain in the joint. The disease can also affect other body parts such as the eyes, nerves, blood vessels and heart.
Arthritis Relief | Signs and symptoms of arthritis
Although there are over 100 types of arthritis, there are symptoms that are common in all forms such as:
■Redness and warmth in a joint
■Difficulty when moving or using a joint normally
■Recurring or constant pain and/or tenderness in a joint
■Redness and warmth of the skin surrounding the joint
■Limited use of a joint
■Stiffness around the joints that lasts for at least an hour in the early morning
■Joint swells or enlarges
■Joint feels like it will not support the weight of the body or is not stable
Arthritis Relief | Different types of arthritis can cause a wide range of symptoms.
With inflammatory arthritis there is likely to be more swelling in your joints and varying levels of pain. If you have a rheumatic disease you may experience tiredness, loss of weight, mild fevers and skin rashes.
It is common to experience aches and pains in your muscles and joints from time to time without this meaning you have arthritis, particularly if you take part in strenuous physical activities. So how can you distinguish the early signs of arthritis from ‘normal’ pain and stiffness?
If the pain develops after a spell of unusual exercise or activity you may have just overdone it a bit, and the pain should ease within a few days. However, if the pain does not ease you should always consult medical advice.
The earlier you get diagnosed the better, so seek advice from your doctor if any of the following apply to you:
■The pain is not linked to an injury and/or persists for longer than a week.
■The joint has become swollen, and is not linked to an injury.
■You also feel unwell or have a fever.
■You are unable to do your everyday tasks due to joint or muscle pain.
■Taking pain killers, applying heat and trying to stay active for a day or so has not helped
ease the pain or stiffness.
■You experience swelling, stiffness or a painful ‘squeeze’ in your joints.
There is no cure for arthritis but there are a number of treatments that can help slow down the condition’s progress. Medication can help relieve the symptoms of arthritis. Medication can include:
■non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
■disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
It may be that you are referred to see a physiotherapist or advised to undertake regular excerise such as swimming. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended such as:
■arthroplasty (joint replacement)
■arthodesis (joint fusion)
■osteotomy (where a bone is cut and re-aligned)
With rheumatoid arthritis other signs may occur as well. If you are experiencing pain or concern it is important to visit your doctor. However, prior to you visit, ask yourself the below questions:
■What medicine/s are you taking?
■Does your family have a history of any type arthritis or other rheumatic disease?
■Have you had any accidents or illnesses that may account for the pain you are
■Does activity make the better or worse?
■What were you doing when you first became aware of the pain?
■How long does the pain last?
■When does the pain occur?
■Is the pain in one or more joints?
By answering the above questions you will help your doctor to better diagnose your condition.
Arthritis Relief | How is arthritis diagnosed?
Diagnosis will be made by your doctor who will take a medical history, perform a physical exam and may take x-rays and blood tests.
How is arthritis treated?
Treating the disease will depend on various factors such as:
■The type of arthritis
■Your work or activity
■How the arthritis affects your daily activities
■Severity of pain
■Which joints are painful
Surgery and medical drug therapy can also be a treatment to help the condition. Because the dangers involved with medical drugs pose additional risks to the persons health many patients are turning to herbal supplements.
Arthritis Relief | Who can treat arthritis?
Types of therapists…
When you begin to have concerns regarding arthritis or are beginning to experience symptoms and signs associated with the disease, the first step is to choose the right doctor or therapist. While many patients are under the assumption that it is only the medically trained doctor that can treat arthritis, this is not the case.
In fact, there are many specialists and therapists who can help treat arthritis symptoms in their own ways. There is terminology that is used regarding the many different types of therapists which is described below as well as how they help arthritis patients to deal with their condition.
Arthritis Relief | Health Professionals Who Treat Arthritis
The following are some of the many different types of health professionals that treat people with arthritis:
■Primary care physicians :These are doctors that are the patient’s primary care physician, meaning they are the 'regular' doctor that the patient sees. Primary care physicians are responsible for referring the patient to other specialists. These doctors are known as “general physicians” or GPs and are not specialists.
■Rheumatologists :Rheumatologists specialize in conditions relating to the joints and specialize in arthritis treatments and other conditions that affect the bones, muscles and joints.
■Orthopedists :Orthopedists are doctors that specialize in treating joint and bone diseases and surgeries for the diseases
■Physical therapists :Also referred to as physiotherapists are professionals in the health care system that work with patients using various techniques such as exercise to help the patient improve the function and mobility of their joints.
■Occupational therapists :These therapists are professionals in the health care system that educate patients on the various ways and techniques to conserve energy, minimize pain and protect joints.
■Dietitians :Dieticians are professionals in the health care system who education patients on how to eat healthy and improve their daily diet and how to maintain and control a healthy weight.
■Nurse educators :These are professionals in the health care system that specialize in caring for patients and helping them to understand their overall condition and implement the treatment plans ordered by the doctors.
■Physiatrists (rehabilitation specialists) :Physiatrists are doctors who have trained to help patients to regain their physical potential.
■Acupuncture therapists :These therapists are professionals in the health care system then treat patients with acupuncture techniques which are the insertion of needles into their skin and results in improving physical functions and reducing pain.
■Psychologists :These professionals in the health care system help patients cope with difficult times in their lives such as medical conditions, hardships within the workplace, or trouble at home or in relationships.
■Social worker :These health care professionals provide help to patients that have social challenges due to an illness, home health care, financial hardships, disability and other needs relating from the person’s medical condition.
■Naturopaths :These are therapists in the health care system that treats their patients through natural means only.
■Homeopaths :These are therapists in the health care system that specialize in a holistic, natural and safe treatment for a number of illnesses and ailments which include arthritis, toothache, headaches, hay fever, diarrhea, eczema, depression, and asthma..
■Herbalists :Herbalists are professionals who are educated in the field of herbal medicine and the healing properties of plants. They resort to many different ways to treat their patients which include herbal supplements, leaves, crude plants, seeds and dried roots. The various plant parts are used to treat the patient’s disease including patients with arthritis.
When treating arthritis, it is important that you view yourself and your doctor or therapist as a team. You will need to work closely together in order to ensure the best care. Treatment among patients that have a good relationship with their doctors and therapists tends to have better results.
Arthritis Relief | Lifestyle changes
Persons living with arthritis may be required to incorporate the following changes into their daily routine and lifestyle:
■Not staying in a position for an excessive amount of time
■Avoid movements or positions that put extra stress on painful joints
■Use cold or hot treatments to help to control swelling and pain
■Exercise to strengthen the muscles and improve joint strength and movement.
Strength training, dancing, bicycling, swimming and walking are all good choices in exercise.
Arthritis Relief | Top 5 myths of arthritis
Fact versus fiction…
Introduction and background
Like many other health disorders and disease, there have been several myths, misconceptions and false assumptions associated with various forms of arthritis and, unfortunately, many people still adhere to them, ending up with worsening of symptoms instead of improving. The following article intends to highlight some of those common myths related with arthritis and will help you differentiate between fact and fiction.
It must be remembered that the main cause of the formation and spread of these myths is lack of proper understanding of the arthritis as a disorder, little or no knowledge about the development of disease and unnecessary delay in diagnosis and treatment of its signs and symptoms.
Myth 1: Arthritis is a temporary, minor ailment
Fact:Arthritis is a “major”, severely debilitating chronic disease that often lasts forever (for life). Also, arthritis is the number 2 crippling disease of Americans after heart disease. However, fortunately, if managed early and properly, arthritis is a fully controllable and manageable condition.
Myth 2: Arthritis is the disease of women
Fact:It is, indeed, true that in every age group the proportion of women who have arthritis is substantially higher than the proportion of men with the condition. For example, in US alone, almost two-thirds of all Americans living with arthritis are women. However, arthritis is also common in men and about 18.1 % men (in every age group) are affected by this problem.
Myth 3: Arthritis is a single disease
Fact:While the term arthritis literally means “joint inflammation,” it is generally used to refer to a family of more than “100 different conditions or disorders” that affect the joints and may also affect muscles and other tissues. The most common of these are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Myth 4: Arthritis refers to joint pain
Fact:While joint pain is, perhaps, the most common and influential symptom of arthritis, it is just a “symptom” and not the disease itself. The other common symptoms (signs) of arthritis within a joint include:
Myth 5: Only old people get arthritis
Fact:While it is true that, according to the current estimates, more than 50 percent of people over age sixty-five have clinical signs of arthritis, it does not mean this condition does not occur in young or middle age people. In fact, it can even occur in infants and children. The terms Idiopathic Arthritis of Childhood (IAC) or Juvenile Arthritis (JA) are well known in medical community.
JA is used as an ‘umbrella’ term for arthritis in childhood and is the diagnosis when the child’s symptoms occur between birth and sixteen years of age. Similarly, a significant number of middle age men and women, especially those in forties and fifties can also get the arthritis problem.
All in all, to successfully manage the signs and symptoms of arthritis and to completely control its further progress, it is essential to have a proper understanding of the arthritis as a disease. Differentiating between myths and facts is, therefore, necessary for everyone. Once you know the difference between these myths and facts, you can actually regain your mobility, activity and vigorous lifestyle and also prevent any complications of arthritis in future.
In fact. with simple, natural lifestyle and dietary modifications such as daily exercising, healthy low-fat, high protein-eating and taking herbal supplement can help prevent the development of arthritis in the first place or at least minimize its risks.
Arthritis Relief | What are Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate?
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are substances found naturally in the body. Glucosamine is a form of amino sugar that is believed to play a role in cartilage formation and repair. Chondroitin sulfate is part of a large protein molecule (proteoglycan) that gives cartilage elasticity. Both glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are sold as dietary or nutritional supplements. They are extracted from animal tissue: glucosamine from crab, lobster or shrimp shells; and chondroitin sulfate from animal cartilage, such as tracheas or shark cartilage.
What do they do? Past studies show that some people with mild to moderate osteoarthritis (OA) taking either glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate reported pain relief at a level similar to that of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Some research indicates that the supplements might also slow cartilage damage in people with OA. Definitive results about the effects of these supplements are expected from an in-depth clinical study currently being conducted by the National Institutes of Health.
*** NIH is the nation’s medical research agency—supporting scientific studies that turn discovery into health. ***
Arthritis Relief | What Is Glucosamine?
Glucosamine is a natural compound that is found in healthy cartilage. Glucosamine sulfate is a normal constituent of glycoaminoglycans in cartilage matrix and synovial fluid. Available evidence from randomized controlled trials supports the use of glucosamine sulfate in the treatment of osteoarthritis, particularly of the knee.
It is believed that the sulfate moiety provides clinical benefit in the synovial fluid by strengthening cartilage and aiding glycosaminoglycan synthesis. If this hypothesis is confirmed, it would mean that only the glucosamine sulfate form is effective and non-sulfated glucosamine forms are not effective. Glucosamine is commonly taken in combination with chondroitin, a glycosaminoglycan derived from articular cartilage. Use of complementary therapies, including glucosamine, is common in patients with osteoarthritis, and may allow for reduced doses of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents.
Arthritis Relief | What Is Chondroitin Sulfate?
Many forms of joint pain are directly related to a deficiency of healthy cartilage in the joints. The cartilage that lubricates and cushions the joints of the body experiences wear and tear on a daily basis. In healthy joints, wear and tear is repaired via a biological balancing process. In order to keep joints healthy, damaged cartilage is constantly being removed through the enzymatic deconstruction and replaced via new cartilage synthesis. This balance is crucial to good joint health.
As many people and animals age, their bodies progressively loose the ability to synthesize the glycosaminoglycans necessary to synthesize the new cartilage tissues needed to repair injuries and everyday wear and tear. During times of stress (such as injury) or disease (i.e. certain forms of arthritis) the deconstructive enzymes in the joints may attack healthy cartilage or compete against new cartilage synthesis.
Where does it come from? While Chondroitin Sulfate is found in the cartilaginous tissues of many invertebrates, the Chondroitin Sulfate utilized in health food supplements is usually derived from Cattle, Pigs, or Sharks. What source is best? When good quality materials are compared, it is believed that the source of the material has little to do with its effectiveness. Companies usually choose a material based upon varying economical, social and ethical standards.
For example, in markets where customers are especially sensitive to the issue of BSE - Mad Cow's Disease (such as certain European markets), a company may choose to utilize a shark material rather than one from a bovine source (cattle). On the other hand, Bovine material may be more appropriate for a customer that is interested in a material to satisfy a market that understands BSE and the precautions taken by companies such as IRMA Corporation to ensure product safety. IRMA Corporation provides cartilage derived from several animal sources. Our representatives are prepared to answer questions regarding any other concerns and sensitivities that may arise.
*** IRMA Mission: To build the most valued raw material supply infrastructure for manufacturing companies throughout the world, by dedicating ourselves to the preservation and improvement of our quality of life. ***