One of the most common joint diseases is arthritis. It happens when an inflammation occurs in bone joints. This means that when one suffers from arthritis, the bone joints typically swells. Arthritis affects many tissues of the body as well as the body’s muscles, skin, and organs. It may also lead to respiratory system malfunction. Arthritis also has various manifestations and can be categorized in various types, the two most common of which are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The roots of arthritis have been attributed to physical characteristics such as age and weight, occupational hazards, and involvement in sports. It is commonly mistaken as a joint disease that only happens to the elderly. Contrary to this preconceived belief, anyone is at risk of having arthritis if improper lifestyle is followed. On the other hand, people who suffer from arthritis can still recover as there are various treatments to cure it and alleviate the pains it causes on the person. Examples of treatments include supplementary medicines which are prescribed by doctors to counter the inflammation of bone joints and therapeutic massage, which is also a good way to treat this joint disease.
The word Arthritis comes from the greek word “arthro” which means joints and “itis” which means inflammation. It is one of the most disabling diseases (Robben). It is a chronic disease that causes physical disabilities. Arthritis is often caused by cellular wastes that are trapped inside tissues which inflict irritation and pain (Cassar 6),
The main target of this disease is the bone joints. Once it affects the joints, it will cause other parts of the body to suffer from inflammation including the ligaments, muscles, and other organs of the body such as the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys (Robben). It causes restriction in physical movements and the patient will just rely on support systems in order to move properly.
Types of Arthritis
There are over 100 forms of arthritis which has been discovered by experts, although osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis were discovered to be the most common types that manifest in a person (Robben).
Osteoarthritis is the type of arthritis which is commonly experienced by older people. The cartilage is the most affected part of the body which covers the end bones of a joint. Murray (3) describes what takes place in the body when a person is suffering from osteoarthritis:
the surface layer of cartilage breaks down and the bones under the cartilage collide with each other. That causes severe pain, swelling and loss of motion of the joint parts. Sometimes, joints lose their original shape and bone spurs grow on the edges of the joints. When bone or cartilage breaks off and floats inside, it causes more damage (Murray 3).
Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, occurs at an early age. It causes the joints to swell and the person experiences intense pain. The effect of this type of arthritis is devastating because if one part is affected, the other part will also be affected. According to Kantrowicz (5), there are instances that:
rheumatoid arthritis lasts only a few months or years and goes away without causing any considerable damage. In some other cases, it remains for many years and causes serious joint damage and disability (Kantrowicz, 5).
Cost and Statistics
Arthritis has always been misconstrued as an ailment that affects only the elderly (Robben). Although most cases of osteoarthritis involve senior women, there are also sufferers the ages of who range between 20 to 50 years old. It is also said that there are infants who are also diagnosed with some forms of arthritis (Robben). In addition to this, many Americans are prone to acquire the said disease. According to an online website, “arthritis currently affects more than 40 million Americans and that figure is expected to rise to 60 million by the year 2,020” (Robben). If this disturbing prediction comes true, not only it would be detrimental to the health and functioning of the people but also the cost of living. It can be measured by cents and dollars being spent to cure the disease. “It is estimated that over $150,000 is lost by an individual over the course of a lifetime due to the debilitating effects of Arthritis” (Robben). This involves the money spent on medications, therapies, and medical basic needs, and care.
Risk Factors that Cause Arthritis
Arthritis is one serious disease which is caused by numerous factors. Genetics is said to be one of the causes of arthritis. Biological factors cause arthritis to occur and more likely a genetic variation contributes in the said disease (Cluett).
As a person grows old, the more the cartilage in our body becomes brittle. As a result, repairing it becomes difficult due to the lack of the necessary nutrients which leads one to acquire arthritis (Cluett). Excessive fats that make a person heavy in weight also cause arthritis. This happens when the joints are damaged because of the heavy loads of fats and muscles in the body (Cluett).
A previous injury can also cause damages in the joints that lead to arthritis. Such irregularities cause rough joint surface which is not normal (Cluett). Some occupation involves risky tasks which may cause one to have arthritis. Construction workers and those who deal with heavy equipments are more prone of the disease because a “tibial plateau fracture” or injuries where the broken area of bone enters the cartilage of the knee joint” happens (Cluett). Sports activities can also contribute to the development of arthritis. Injuries out of extreme sports cause joint injury and subsequent arthritis (Cluett).
Effects of Arthritis
Arthritis is a chronic condition. It causes the body to be weak as the disease grows into years. The effects are really detrimental since it targets the physical abilities of the body. One who has arthritis feels difficulties in moving and doing things. It is also known as the second most unbearable condition next to heart disease (Robben).
Arthritis does not only manifest in older people and cause them to feel pain and weaknesses. Children are also at risk of having arthritis since its occurrence involves one common thing, chronic joint pain (Robben). When afflicted with this disease, children would not be able to play with their peers and do various body movements because of arthritis.
It is also most unfortunate to know the fact that arthritis also requires the sufferer to spend money in order to maintain the medication until they reach full recovery. However, there are therapies which are lesser in cost but can lead to full recovery.
There are multiple treatments available in order to recover from arthritis. Such treatments can be classified as medicines, exercise, weight reduction, surgery, and massage therapy. One good way to cure arthritis is by means of getting the necessary medicines. Surgery involves the process of repairing the damaged joint so that the body can move properly. Protecting the joints with braces is also one way of treating arthritis (Robben).
Having a healthy diet will also reduce calories which makes a person overweight. Eating fruits and vegetables rich in fiber will also lower arthritis (Murray). Treating the disease the natural way is much better than taking medicinal drugs. This is because some of these medicines have side effects such as the occurrence of tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Drug based products may relieve pain and inflammation but may cause toxins to develop in the patient’s body (Murray 7). Exercise also decreases the risk of having arthritis because it reduces chances of being overweight.
Among the aforementioned treatments massage is said to be the most useful treatment for arthritis (Cassar 6). Massaging the painful muscles will increase the blood circulation and relieve the pain on the body that is affected by arthritis. A careful and skillful massage therapist is necessary to alleviate the extreme joint pains brought by arthritis. Arthritis is often caused by cellular wastes that are trapped inside tissues which inflict irritation and pain. Massage then helps in clearing out these wastes by means of blood circulation (Cassar 6). It also relieves muscle pressures in the nervous system and balances the whole body system.
Arthritis can affect anyone regardless of gender, age or social status. A simple joint pain should not be taken for granted because it may lead to serious cases of diseases. Thus, this is a serious ailment that should be cured immediately before it leads to more severe diseases.
There are means and ways to put an end to suffering brought about by arthritis. It is important to determine the causes and effects of arthritis so that this joint disease will be easily prevented. The best way to recover from the chronic disease is through natural ways like dieting, exercising, and massaging the affected area. A soothing touch from a gentle massage will surely ease out the tension and stress felt by the arthritis patient. Aside from its affordability, massage also produces a healthier body system and more balanced hormones. Having a healthy life style and eating the right kind of food will also guarantee an arthritis-free life.
Cassar, Mario-Paul. Handbook of Massage Therapy. Butterworth-Heinemann. (1999).
Cluett, Jonathan. What Causes Arthritis?. Orthopedics About website 26 April 2008 ;http://orthopedics.about.com/od/hipkneearthritis/f/arthritis.htm;
Kantrowicz, Fred. Taking Care of Arthritis. New York: Harper-Perennial. (1991).
Murray, Michael T. Arthritis: Getting Well Naturally. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing. (1994)
Robben, John. Arthritis: It’s Debilitating and Detrimental Effects. Health Guidance Organization Website. 26 April 2008 <http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/1020/1/Arthritis-Its-Debilitating-and- Detrimental-Effects.html>
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