What is Arthritis?

Arthritis, simply put, is an inflammation of the joints. The two most commonly known forms of arthritis that you may be diagnosed with consist of a mechanical form and a systemic form. The mechanical type, Osteoarthritis, is known as normal wear and tear of the joints and affects everyone after a certain age.

One of the most commonly known forms of a systemic form of arthritis is Rheumatoid arthritis, or inflammatory arthritis, and is an autoimmune disorder.

General Arthritis

There are over 100 specific kinds of arthritis that can affect your body. Some other forms of arthritis that may affect you are:

● Metabolic arthritis: The condition known as Gout is the commonly known form of metabolic arthritis. This occurs when too much uric acid is in the cells, causing painful, sharp crystals to form within the joint. Diet is a huge factor of treatment and prevention of Gout. Most often, Gout will affect the big toe joint.
● Infectious arthritis, also may be called Septic Arthritis: Infectious arthritis occurs when a virus or bacterium enter the body and makes it way to a joint, causing inflammation.
● Reactive arthritis: this is another form of Infectious Arthritis; however, the precipitating infection is in another part of the body and not directly in the joints as in Septic Arthritis
● Psoriatic arthritis: linked with Psoriasis of the skin, but in rare cases the skin may not be affected

Signs of Arthritis

Signs of an arthritic condition in the body are:

● Painful and/or stiff joints
● Difficulty moving a joint or a loss of range of motion
● Sleeping difficulties
● Bone spurs and nodules
● Numbness and tingling in the hands or feet if nerves are affected
● General malaise
● Fever
● Red, burning eyes
● Skin rash that comes and goes along with joint pain

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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition. This means that your immune system does not function properly and mistakenly thinks there is an infection happening in your body when there is not. In the case of Rheumatoid Arthritis, the malfunctioning immune system most commonly attacks the joints but it can affect other parts of the body. This condition affects younger people as well as the older population. With this condition, smaller joints are generally affected first including the fingers and toes. But in more advanced cases, it can affect the shoulders, neck, back, ankles, hips, and knees.

Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis will usually present bilaterally, meaning that it affects both sides of the body, as opposed to Osteoarthritis which generally only affects a joint or joints on one side of the body. Some signs and symptoms of RA may be:

● Unpredictable pain and swelling of joints which may come and go
● Deformity of joints
● Loss of range of motion in joints which is generally worst in the morning or after a period of prolonged inactivity
● Appearance of nodules on or near the joint(s) affected
● Fatigue and fever
● Loss of appetite
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