Arthritis Definition - What is Arthritis?

Arthritis Definition

The term arthritis is used loosely as if it encompassed one entity, although over 100 types of arthritis have been identified. For millions of Americans, arthritis limits everyday movements such as walking, standing, or even holding a pencil. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the effects of arthritis range from slight pain, stiffness, and swelling of the joints, to crippling and disabling discomfort.

Arthritis affects people of all ages. The NIH reports that about 15% of the U.S. population has arthritis or a related disorder, and 200,000 children in the U.S. have some form of the disease.

Arthritis Definition and Symptoms of Arthritis

Arthritis is an aggregate of illnesses whose common features include an inflammation of the joints, surrounding tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Among the oldest known afflictions of human beings, it can affect virtually every part of the body: from the feet to the knees, back, shoulders, and fingers. There are three primary categories of arthritis, each with specific symptoms: Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis or Gout. Please click on the links to read more information and healing protocols for the specific type of arthritis you are referencing.

Types of Arthritis

There are a variety of arthritic conditions, with the three most common forms of the disease being osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. Less prevalent types of arthritis include psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and infectious arthritis.

Causes of Arthritis

Arthritis is caused by a variety of factors, including joint instability, injuries, age-related changes, toxins, microbes, altered biochemistry, hormonal factors, and genetic predisposition.

Yet other environmental, psychological, dietary, and even dental factors have also been found to bring on the condition. In recent years, research conducted by rheumatologists and allergists has concluded that some patients can experience allergy-induced arthritis.

Stress can also be a major factor because it disrupts the body's hormonal balance. Stress related changes in the chemical levels of cortisol can often lead to changes in the immune system.

A weakened immune system allows certain bacteria to penetrate the body, possibly leading to forms of arthritis. This sequence often occurs in women undergoing menopause.

Lyme disease can also cause arthritis symptoms, especially infectious arthritis. Presumably caused by bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) carried by deer ticks or black-legged ticks, the symptoms of Lyme disease may vary. Typical symptoms are a preliminary skin rash before the onset of fatigue, aches, and then flu-like symptoms. Eventually these bacteria penetrate the nervous system and attack brain tissue and spinal cells. The incubation period can be lengthy, with initial exposure commonly occurring during the summer and most symptoms developing weeks or months later.

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