Definitions of Common Forms of Arthritis

April 24, 2007 10:45pm CST
Osteoarthritis, also known as “degenerative joint disease,” is the nation’s number one crippling disease, affecting an estimated 20.7 million Americans. Osteoarthritis most often affects the hip, knee, foot, and hand, but can affect other joints as well. Degeneration of joint cartilage and changes in underlying bone and supporting tissues lead to pain, stiffness, movement problems, and activity limitations. Rheumatoid Arthritis afflicts approximately 2.1 million Americans and is characterized by chronic inflammation of the joint lining. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, and swelling of multiple joints. The inflammation may extend to other joint tissues and cause bone and cartilage erosion, joint deformities, movement problems, and activity limitations. Rheumatoid arthritis RA can also affect connective tissue and blood vessels throughout the body, triggering inflammation in a variety of organs, including the lungs and heart. In severe cases, RA can lead to death from respiratory and infectious diseases. Fibromyalgia literally means “pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons.” Fibromyalgia pain syndrome involves muscle and muscle attachment areas. Common symptoms include widespread pain throughout the muscles of the body, sleep disorders, fatigue, headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome. This disease affects about 2 percent of Americans. Juvenile Arthritis affects about 285,000 children in the United States. About 10 percent of these children have systemic onset type which begins with very high fevers, skin rash, and inflammation in many internal organ systems as well as the joints. Pauciarticular onset disease affects fewer than five joints and affects about half of all children with arthritis. Some who develop this type from infancy to age 5 risk developing inflammatory eye problems. Older children may develop one of the adult forms of arthritis. Polyarticular disease affects more than five joints and can begin at any age. Some of these children have adult type rheumatoid arthritis that begins at an earlier age than usual.
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