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arthritis hands

Arthritis is a disease that affects millions of Americans. Few people consider the health and well being of their bones and joints until they experience the pain of inflammation and stiffness. For those who currently experience joint pain, you know all too well that it is far from pleasant. However, there are certain things you can do to help alleviate the severity of your discomfort and possibly prevent inflammation and cartilage degeneration, which cause this type of joint pain.

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As a normal function, your body offers a joint maintenance program that includes rebuilding and regenerating cartilage. As a result, your joints are mostly able to maintain their shock-absorbing capabilities.


However, as you age or incur injuries, the body is sometimes unable to sustain the level of cartilage regeneration required by the body. Upon injury or cartilage breakdown, the body's natural reaction is to produce inflammation within the joint so blood flow is increased, making more nutrients and oxygen available to aid in the healing process. Pain and discomfort that prohibit normal movement can result from the inflammation and injury.


What is arthritis?


arthritis backIt is very important for people who are suffering from any of the rheumatic or arthritic conditions to understand that "arthritis" in itself is a rather bad name.


The literal translation of arthritis is: Inflammation of, or belonging to, a joint. To differentiate between the various types of inflammation which can be found in and around joints we add a word before it. The two most common words we use are:

(a) osteoarthritis

(b) rheumatoid arthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA)


Osteoarthritis is a condition which in the first instance attacks the cartilages of the joint. Cartilage is the very smooth substance which surrounds the ends of the bone and makes it easy for the two surfaces to run together. The cartilage is of a very smooth silvery grey appearance. An osteoarthritic joint is a mechanical condition which is brought about when the joint bears loads or strains at the incorrect point. For example, a sufferer with an osteoarthritic hip joint has for some considerable time been carrying his/her weight incorrectly.


When the cartilage of the joint wears, due to incorrect weight bearing, nature comes to the defense of the joint.


First of all, it tightens up the soft tissue, around the joint i.e. the ligaments, tendons and muscles. This makes the joint rather difficult to move.


The next stage is that, as cartilage is difficult to regenerate and bone is easy to regenerate, extra bone is laid down to replace the damaged or lost cartilage. The amount of bone laid down is grossly in excess of the quantity that is needed to replace the damaged cartilage. This leads to the typical x-ray appearance of an osteoarthritic joint where there are little pinnacles (spikes) sticking out which are very easily detectable.


The challenge is to persuade the bone to deposit less, and at the same time maintain the flexibility of the soft tissues around the joint, and persuade the joint to move; this can minimize the damage already done to the osteoarthritic joint, and make it as near as is humanly possible a perfectly useful and pain free joint.


This is the typical process of degeneration of an osteoarthritic joint.


There is a second type of osteoarthritic joint and that is caused by direct violence to a joint i.e. a fracture through the joint or a very severe blow or break or damage in any shape or form, such as from a fall.


If you, or any friends of yours, are in the least bit doubtful about the resultant effect of falls - this especially applies to teenage children - then do seek advice as quickly as possible, bearing in mind that under the National Health Service very few General Practitioners have the time to devote to a full scale investigation as to why these little niggling pains are developing.


Arthritis Health Center

Arthritis or other chronic joint pain affects nearly 70 million people in the U.S. alone. Get in-depth information here about osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and related conditions. You'll find articles about arthritis symptoms and prevention, arthritis drugs, and other promising treatments.

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