Arthritis affects people of all ages. Diagnosis of most forms of arthritis occurs between the ages of 40 and 60 years old. The rates of arthritis are three times higher in women than in men.
The disease is characterized by chronic joint inflammation. Stiff joints with limited mobility and pain are common symptoms of the disease.
Over 100 forms of arthritis are recognized with three of them being the most common: rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. A person may develop the disease due to normal wear in a joint, overuse, injury, or obesity (which places undue stress on the knees and hips). More often than not, the only symptom associated with this form of arthritis is pain resulting from cartilage having worn away from the ends of the bones within the joint. Cartilage and synovial fluid cushion the bones as they move against one another within a joint.
Psoriatic Arthritis causes inflammation of the skin and joints. Raised red, white, and scaly patches of skin develop on the body and one or more joints become inflamed. The fingernails may also become pitted and discolored with this form of arthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is actually an autoimmune disorder. Its exact cause remains unclear. Information presented by WebMd on the topic indicates, it may be a residual response of the immune system following a viral or bacterial infection. Doctors think the body mistakes its own tissues as a remaining threat and concentrates its attack in the joints.
Arthritis Statistics In Women
Arthritis affects 52.5 million American adults based on the data from the 2012-2012 National Health Interview Survey. Approximately 1.3 million adults suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, the autoimmune form of the disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects women disproportionately; the number of women with the disease is three times higher than the number of men.
The way rheumatoid arthritis manifests in women also tends to be more severe:
- Women are diagnosed with the disease at younger ages than men are.
- Women report more symptoms of greater severity compared to those of Men at the same stage in the disease.
- Women do not experience the same level of symptom relief as men when given the same treatments.
Hormones also seem to play a role in the way women experience rheumatoid arthritis. Pregnant women with the disease seem to experience fewer symptoms during pregnancy, but the disease may resurge post-delivery. Breastfeeding also seems to offer some protection against developing the disease.
The treatment of arthritis varies depending on the patient and the type of arthritis they have. Available treatments for arthritis include pharmaceuticals, surgery, and alternative therapies.
Alternative therapies like yoga, tai chi, biofeedback, and massage work well in conjunction with medicines and nutritional and herbal supplements to alleviate arthritis-related pain and other symptoms.
- Medications – A variety of medications are prescribed to treat arthritis: analgesics (painkillers), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, counter-irritants containing menthol or capsaicin, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and steroids. The goal of most medications used to treat the disease is to decrease pain, heat and swelling in the affected joint(s).
- Surgery – If medication and other therapies fail, a doctor may recommend surgery. Joint replacement surgery has become more common. The damaged joint is removed and an artificial joint put in its place. Knee and hip replacement surgeries occur fairly frequently. Joint fusion surgery locks the ends of two bones within a joint together. The ends of the bones to be fused are removed and the remaining bones bound so they heal together. Small joints like those in the wrists, fingers, and ankles are considered for this type of surgery.
- Alternative treatments – Complementary medical procedures, like acupuncture, and alternative therapies, like yoga or tai chi, generally assist with controlling pain, improving range of motion and building strength in the muscles around the joint.
Early diagnosis and early treatment are the keys to successfully managing arthritis. Given the unclear causal factors of psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, they may not be preventable.
It may be possible to prevent osteoarthritis with behavior modification and the use of orthopedic equipment to support the joints during repetitive and strenuous activities. Consult with your doctor if you believe you are experiencing arthritis symptoms.