Simply put, arthritis is the inflammation of a joint. However, this hardly begins to describe all the various ways a joint becomes inflamed. This month we will start the first of a two part series on arthritis. Here we will cover what it is and what causes it, and next month we will discuss prevention and treatment.
There are many types of arthritis, most of which can be categorized as degenerative or autoimmune. Degenerative arthritis affects most people, provided they live long enough, due to the wear and tear on a joint and the breakdown of the joint cartilage from activities of daily living and trauma. Genetics and lifestyle factors also play a role in the development of degenerative arthritis. Degenerative arthritis is also known as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include achiness, stiffness, and soreness. Symptoms are often worse in the morning and improve with activity, to a point. Over -exertion of an arthritic joint can exacerbate the symptoms as well.
Most of the other types of arthritis are due to an autoimmune condition such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, and Psoriasis. Even under the heading of Rheumatoid Arthritis, there are many variations. With all of these types of arthritis, the immune system has gone awry and attacks one or more of the joint tissues. This causes inflammation and over time deterioration of the joint.
Gout or Gouty Arthritis stands alone because it doesn’t fit neatly into either of the other categories. Gout is a condition where uric acid, a byproduct of metabolism, builds up in the system and crystallizes. These crystals are sharp and settle into joints, most notably the large toes and ankles. These uric acid crystals irritate the tissues around the joints where they settle. Each episode causes more damage to the joint. Sharp pain and redness around the joint are common symptoms.
Regardless of the cause, arthritis can be a painful and often debilitating condition. At the same time, many people have arthritis and function quite well and have little pain.
There are many variables that affect the way each person reacts to any condition. We can’t cover them all within the confines of this newsletter, but next month we will go over some of the highlights of how to avoid certain kinds of arthritis and what to do if you have it!
Dr. Buchan and Dr. McComb are board certified doctors of chiropractic and owners of Kingwood Chiropractic Associates. They have extensive education and training in the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal conditions, applied clinical nutrition and acupuncture. They are committed to helping you and your families obtain the information which is essential to achieve health and wellness, and through that process empower you to make decisions that will lead to fulfillment of your goals and a life of greater potential. For more information on methods of improving your health, go to www.kingwoodchiro.com.