Arthritis is a joint disorder that is generally associated with aging. It literally means inflammation of one or more joints where two different bones meet. People laugh about it in TV sitcoms as actors and actresses poke fun at arthritis sufferers, but for real arthritis patients the pain caused by the disorder is no laughing matter and is, in fact, a serious call for alarm.
There are over 100 types of arthritis, each triggered by different circumstances and conditions. Some are related to simple wear and tear of cartilage, like osteoarthritis, and others by inflammation caused by an overactive immune system, like rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis represents one of the most chronic diseases in the United States, an ailment that is likely to last a long time and a source of recurring trouble for life. It has many causes, including injury leading to osteoarthritis, metabolic abnormalities (gout and pseudogout), heredity, infection, and even some unclear causes, like rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.
Arthritis sufferers literally writhe in pain, experience inflammation of the joints characterized by stiffness, redness and warmth. The inflamed joint becomes tender and extremely sensitive. Since arthritis is also a form of rheumatic disease, it also causes problems which affect the different organs of the body that are not related to the joints. This is why some arthritis victims can also experience fever, gland swelling, weight loss, and fatigue.
It is interesting to note that close to 40 million people in the United States are suffering from arthritis and nearly half of them are under 65 years old. Recent studies also reveal that almost 60 percent of Americans with arthritis are females and over a quarter of a million American children are affected by the disease. Osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease among older people caused by joints wearing out and bones getting softer (osteoporosis), affects more than 27 million Americans, most of them women. This is no laughing matter for arthritis sufferers and the government as well. The cost of health care for osteoarthritis patients in the United States is $185.5 billion a year.
Alarmed policymakers bat for increased awareness and better monitoring to identify patients with osteoarthritis to help delay disease progression and reduce medical costs. Doctors recommend regular exercise, proper medication, and diet to help reduce the cost of healthcare bills for individuals and the government.