Types of Arthritis
Arthritis, which affects one in five American adults (50 million people), is a family of diseases that affects the bones, joints, muscles and cartilage. The leading cause of disability in the U.S., arthritis can affect adults of all ages as well as children. And its numbers are expected to climb in the next 20 years.
While there are more than 100 types of arthritis, the following are most common:
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs when the cartilage that cushions the bone surfaces becomes rough over time. This roughness causes irritation, and eventually the cartilage can wear away altogether. Osteoarthritis usually occurs in people older than 50. It can be caused by simple aging, being overweight, taking certain medications or by old injuries. It also tends to run in families.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that most often affects smaller joints, such as those in your hands and feet. Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints – called the synovial membrane — causing painful swelling that can lead to bone erosion and joint deformity.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, which means that your immune system mistakenly attacks your body’s own tissues. It usually runs in families, is more common in women than in men, and generally occurs between the ages of 40 and 60. People with rheumatoid arthritis may be more prone to developing fibromyalgia, which causes chronic pain and can impair the joints and soft tissues.
An injury to the joint can cause a roughening of the surface, which wears out the cartilage over time, causing pain and stiffness.
Avascular Necrosis, or Osteonecrosis
Bone that does not receive its normal blood supply becomes weak and might collapse, causing damage to the cartilage. This can happen in patients who do not eat a balanced diet, take steroids for long periods, or have received organ transplants that require certain medications.
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