Living And Coping With Arthritis - How To Stay Active And Independent
By: Richard Clement
Arthritis pain can be frustrating. Nagging and crippling arthritis pain can continue day after day. How much happier would you be if you could stop your arthritis pain right now and feel great all day? Knowing the nature of the disease can really bring you the right answers.
What is arthritis?Arthritis comprises over 100 different diseases and conditions. The word arthritis means "joint inflammation". When joints are inflamed, it causes pain and usually also limits movement of the joints that are affected. For many people, arthritis pain has a large impact on their life. Arthritis is second only to heart disease as a cause of work disability. Arthritis limits everyday activities such as walking, dressing and bathing for more than 16 million Americans. Each year, arthritis results in 750,000 hospitalizations and 36 million outpatient visits. Arthritis is not just an old person's disease. Nearly two-thirds of people with arthritis are younger than 65 years including nearly 300,000 children. Arthritis affects children and people of all racial and ethnic groups but is more common among women and older adults.
The disease can affect different parts of the body. Two of the most common forms are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the joint lining becomes inflamed as part of the body's immune system activity. RA is one of the most serious and disabling types, affecting mostly women. Rheumatoid arthritis is two to three times more common in women than in men and generally strikes between the ages of 20 and 50. Both sides of the body are usually affected at the same time. Symptoms of RA differ from person to person but can generally include:
These 2 forms have very different causes, risk factors, and effects on the body, yet they often share a common symptom - persistent joint pain.
What are the causes of arthritis?Primary OA is mostly related to aging. With aging, the water content of the cartilage increases and the protein makeup of cartilage degenerates. Repetitive use of the joints over the years irritates and inflames the cartilage, causing joint pain and swelling. Eventually, cartilage begins to degenerate by flaking or forming tiny crevasses. Inflammation of the cartilage can also stimulate new bone outgrowths (spurs) to form around the joints. Sometimes osteoarthritis follows an injury to a joint. For example, a young person might hurt his knee badly playing soccer. Then, years after the knee has apparently healed, he might get arthritis in his knee joint.
RA is an autoimmune disease. This means the body's natural immune system does not operate as it should; it attacks healthy joint tissue, initiating a process of inflammation and joint damage. RA is a type of chronic arthritis that occurs in joints on both sides of the body (such as hands, wrists or knees). This symmetry helps distinguish RA from other types of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs most frequently in the 30-50 age group, although can start at any age. It is strongly associated with the HLA marker DR4 - hence Family history is an important risk factor. The disease affects Females:Males in a 4:1 ratio.
Other conditions can also cause arthritis. Some include:
What can you do about it?Some people may worry that arthritis means they won't be able to work or take care of their children and their family. Others think that you just have to accept things like arthritis.
While there is not yet a cure for arthritis, much can be done today to reduce pain and boost joint function. Learning how to manage pain over the long term is essential to maintaining a good quality of life. There are things you can do to keep the damage from getting worse. They might also make you feel better.Here are some simple things to do:
After the doctor knows what kind of arthritis you have, he or she will talk with you about the best way to treat it. The doctor may give you a prescription for medicine that will help with the pain, stiffness, and inflammation.
The good news is that now there is a way to stop your pain with a medication. Celebrex is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), specifically a COX-2 inhibitor, which relieves pain and swelling (inflammation). It represents a huge breakthrough in the treatment of pain, inflammation, and stiffness of arthritis. Celebrex is believed to fight pain and inflammation by inhibiting the effect of a natural enzyme called COX-2. Unlike the older medications, however, it does not interfere with a similar substance, called COX-1, which exerts a protective effect on the lining of the stomach.Celebrex doesn't cause the stomach bleeding and ulcers that traditional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) might.
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