Arthritis is an inflammatory condition of the joints that can at times disable the patient. The consequences of arthritis include joint disfigurement and constrained joint mobility.
Statistics of Americans with arthritis or chronic joint symptoms:
o 1985 - 35 million
o 1990 - 37.9 million
o 1998 - nearly 43 million (1 in 6 people)
o 2006 - 46 million (nearly 1 in 5 adults)
o Arthritis is said to be one of the most ubiquitous chronic health problems and is leading cause of disability among Americans over age 15.
o Arthritis is second only to heart disease as grounds of work disability.
o Arthritis limits daily activities such as walking, dressing and bathing for more than 7 million Americans.
o Arthritis results in 39 million doctor visits and more than a half million hospitalizations.
o Arthritis influences people in all age groups together with nearly 300,000 children.
o Baby boomers are now at chief jeopardy. More than half those affected are under age 65.
o Arthritis is a term used to refer to more than hundred different diseases that concern areas in or around joints.
o Women - 24.3 million of the people with arthritis diagnosed by a doctor
o Men - 17.1 million of the people with arthritis diagnosed by a doctor
The disease also has an affect on other parts of the body. Arthritis causes pain, loss of movement and sometimes swelling. Some types of arthritis are:
o Osteoarthritis: a degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage that covers the ends of bones in the joint deteriorates, causing pain and loss of movement as bone begins to rub against bone. It is the most prevalent form of arthritis.
o Rheumatoid arthritis: an autoimmune disease in which the joint lining becomes inflamed as part of the body's immune system activity. Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most serious and disabling types, affecting mostly women.
o Gout is a form which mostly affects men. It is usually the result of a defect in body chemistry. This painful condition most often attacks small joints, especially the big toe. Fortunately, gout almost always can be completely controlled with medication and changes in diet.
o Ankylosing spondylitis is a type that affects the spine. As a result of inflammation, the bones of the spine grow together.
o Juvenile arthritis is a common term for all types of arthritis that come about in children. Children may develop juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or childhood forms of lupus, Ankylosing spondylitis or other types of arthritis.
o Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus): a severe disorder that can agitate and damage joints and other connective tissues all over the body.
o Scleroderma: a disease of the connective tissues of the body that causes a thickening and hardening of the skin.
o Fibromyalgia: a form in which extensive pain affects the muscles and attachments to the bone. It affects mostly women.