The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid and gout. Arthritis is a term used for a group of conditions that cause stiffness, swelling and pain in your joints. Many of we older Baby Boomers, like The Ol' Boomer, are already experiencing osteoarthritis.
Before we get into the types of arthritis, you may find watching this short video to be helpful in better understanding the various kinds of arthritis.
Commonly referred to as "degenerative joint disease", osteoarthritis is the most common form. It is estimated that over 16 million people in the United States alone are affected by this type of arthritis. It can be quite painful and results from a gradual deterioration of joint cartilage. However, it usually does not have a lot of the inflammation as other types of arthritis.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis develop slowly over the years and at first you may only notice some stiffness and pain after heavy use of the joint. What happens there is a gradual breakdown of a joint/s cartilage resulting in an ever increasing "bone on bone" friction which irritates the synovial membrane surrounding the joint/s.
Osteoarthritis is more common in the weight-bearing joints, such as the knees and hips, but can also be found in the hands, feet and shoulders. It can also affectthe neck joints in the form of cervical spondylosis. Almost everybody has some form of osteoarthritis by the time they reach age 70.
Some Quick Facts About Osteoarthritis:
Joint pain after weight bearing activities - even standing for a long time.
Stiffness after a long period of inactivity such as sitting or sleeping. (Which subsides in few minutes.)
Did you know that an affected joint could not only become much less mobile but even get to the point of your not being able to bend or straighten it out?
Treatments for Osteoarthritis
This is the second most common type of arthritis and the most damaging as it can cause destruction of joints. It is believed to be an autoimmune disorder. (That's where a malfunction in your body's immune system causes it to attack its own soft tissues that line the joint.)
It is estimated that this type of arthritis occurs in about 1% of the world's population, usually affecting women 2 to 3 time more than men. So far, it's not been tagged to any one particular ethnic group over another.
This is definitely something to be diagnosed by your doctor because of it's long term disabling capabilities.
Some personal stories
I am aware of a former high school classmate who developed this and was put on full retirement by his employer by our 30 year class reunion!
He worked in an auto factory and they considered his case to have such a high liability potential, that they would be better off retiring him than risking the consequences of a big time work related injury to him and/or others on the assembly line around him.
I'm also know of another fellow who was forced to take early retirement (late 50's) as he was constantly going out on sick/disability leave because his lower joints were breaking down. I don't see him anymore but he told me his doctor's prognosis was that he would probably be in a wheel chair within 5 to 10 years.
As you can see, rheumatoid arthritis is nothing to mess around with! So, Boomer, if you're having joint problems, get in to see your doctor. OK?
Did you know that gout is one of the types of arthritis? I didn't until just a few years ago.
I've found a nice personal website that appears to have some good information about gout. You may want to check it out here.
Besides the three types of arthritis mentioned above, there are many others including Ankylosing Spondylitis, Reactive Arthritis and Septic Arthritis.
Also, the Mayo Clinic has a good article about the Do's and Dont's of dealing with arthritis. You can read it here.
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