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.
osteoarthritis, 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.