Nearly any joint in the body can become affected by different types of arthritis, resulting in pain, stiffness, and swelling, and other joint-related symptoms such as redness, warmth and tenderness.
Arthritis is an umbrella term meaning “joint inflammation”, encompassing more than 100 diseases of the joints 1 Arthritis in General. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov. Updated October 20, 2010. Accessed January 2011. , and is the most common cause of disability in the United States affecting approximately 46 million adults, which is nearly 1 in 5 adults, and 300,000 children 2 Arthritis Prevalence: A Nation in Pain. Arthritis Foundation. http://www.arthritis.org. Updated May 13, 2009. Accessed December 2010. .
Certain types of arthritis can affect other areas of the body besides the joints, such as:
- The skin or internal organs
- Some arthritis types are accompanied by fever, rash or extreme tiredness
- Inflammation can lead to tissue damage if it occurs for prolonged time periods.
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If left untreated, this combination of symptoms can lead to immobility and difficulty in performing everyday tasks, or potentially more severe results.
Treatment for any type of arthritis begins with a proper diagnosis; an early diagnosis is often the key to long-term success in treatment. Treatment plans will be different for each patient, but they often include a combination of exercise programs, physical therapy, and medications. Each plan should aim to help control pain while maintaining mobility and preventing irreversible damage in the joints.
Arthritis is not a selective disease, affecting men and women, children and adults. It is also not just a disease of the elderly: more than half of patients suffering from arthritis are under 65 years of age 2 Arthritis Prevalence: A Nation in Pain. Arthritis Foundation. http://www.arthritis.org. Updated May 13, 2009. Accessed December 2010. . The specific causes, symptoms, and treatments will vary depending on the individual and the type of arthritis.
Most types of arthritis can be classified into one of two groups: degenerative arthritis or inflammatory arthritis.