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The word arthritis literally means joint inflammation, where the Greek word “arthros” means joint and “itis” means inflammation.
Arthritis is an umbrella term that covers more than 100 different diseases, which usually affect the joints or tissues near the joints, such as muscles and tendons. Some types of arthritis can affect other areas of the body, including internal organs and skin.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, affecting about 27 million Americans, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Fibromyalgia is not technically a form of arthritis because it does not cause inflammation or damage to the joints and surrounding tissues, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Fibromyalgia is an arthritis-related condition, however, and doctors categorize fibromyalgia as a rheumatoid condition that causes pain and impairment in joints and nearby tissues. Because it is so closely associated with arthritis, the Arthritis Foundation includes it in its list.
Scientists have not yet figured out what causes most types of arthritis, according to University of Washington’s Department of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, but there are so many types of arthritis that there are bound to be many different causes.
More than 52 million adults, which amount to more than 22 percent of the American adult population, have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Anyone can get arthritis, but the risk for developing the condition increases with age. Other risk factors include a family history of the condition, previous joint injury and obesity. Women are also more likely to develop arthritis than are men.
Most people with arthritis feel pain, stiffness, fatigue, and sometimes redness and warmth, in a particular joint. Weakness, weight loss, or fever may sometimes accompany joint symptoms. Psoriatic arthritis is a joint condition that often accompanies psoriasis, a skin condition characterized by red patches of skin topped by silvery scales.
The severity of symptoms can vary from person to person and even day to day. Some people experience arthritis symptoms in only one joint or a few joints, while arthritis affects the entire body systems of other people.
Cracking your knuckles does not increase your risk for developing arthritis, according to Harvard Health Publications. However, people who crack their knuckles are more likely to suffer swollen hands and demonstrate a weaker handgrip, so you may want to break that habit.
Treatment depends largely on the type of arthritis. Acetaminophen relieves pain but does not reduce inflammation like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen and naproxen. Creams and rubs reduce pain. Special medications, such as disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) help with rheumatoid arthritis. Corticosteroids injections or pills may also help relieve symptoms of arthritis.
If conservative measures fail, surgical joint replacement or joint fusion may be an option.
Chiropractic care is remarkably effective in the treatment of many forms of arthritis. A chiropractor helps arthritis patients develop an exercise program that achieves maximum health benefits with minimal pain and stiffness. Your chiropractor can create a treatment program that helps you restore the range of motion in your arthritic joints, improve flexibility and endurance, and help you strengthen and tone muscles.