May Is Arthritis Awareness Month: Here's What You Need To Know

Source The Arthritis Foundation

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a term to describe 100 or more diseases or conditions that cause joint pain or disease and inflammation. For example, someone doesn’t just have cancer and there are varying degrees and types of cancer. The same goes for arthritis and some types are just as difficult to pronounce or spell as types of cancer. Two of the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis but both are completely different diseases.

1 in 3 Americans have arthritis.

People of all ages, genders and races have arthritis, it’s the nation’s No.1 cause of long term disability of working age adults.

The true number of people with arthritis is unknown because many people don’t seek treatment until their symptoms become severe.

According to The Arthritis Foundation recent study says as many as 91 million Americans may really have arthritis – when you add together those who are officially diagnosed plus those who report obvious symptoms but haven’t been diagnosed. Arthritis is a lot more serious than people understand.

The Types of Arthritis

Degenerative Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. When the cartilage – the slick, cushioning surface on the ends of bones – wears away, bone rubs against bone, causing pain, swelling and stiffness. Over time, joints can lose strength and pain may become chronic.

Inflammatory Arthritis

A healthy immune system is protective. It generates internal inflammation to get rid of infection and prevent disease. But the immune system can go awry, mistakenly attacking the joints with uncontrolled inflammation, potentially causing joint erosion and may damage internal organs, eyes and other parts of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are examples of inflammatory arthritis.

Infectious Arthritis

A bacterium, virus or fungus can enter the joint and trigger inflammation. Examples of organisms that can infect joints are salmonella and shigella (food poisoning or contamination), chlamydia and gonorrhea (sexually transmitted diseases) and hepatitis C (a blood-to-blood infection, often through shared needles or transfusions). In many cases, timely treatment with antibiotics may clear the joint infection, but sometimes the arthritis becomes chronic.

Metabolic Arthritis

Uric acid is formed as the body breaks down purines, a substance found in human cells and in many foods. Some people have high levels of uric acid because they naturally produce more than is needed or the body can’t get rid of the uric acid quickly enough. In some people the uric acid builds up and forms needle-like crystals in the joint, resulting in sudden spikes of extreme joint pain, or a gout attack. Gout can come and go in episodes or, if uric acid levels aren’t reduced, it can become chronic, causing ongoing pain and disability.

Some Common Types of Arthritis

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

  • Osteoarthritis (OA)

  • Osteoporosis

  • Psoriatic Arthritis

  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Ankylosing Spondylitis

  • Gout

What are the myths about arthritis?

Only old people get it

Almost 300,000 babies, kids and teens have arthritis or a rheumatic condition.

It’s just joint pain, it’s not serious.

Autoimmune forms are systemic and can affect the entire body, including organs such as the heart, lungs, brain, skin. Arthritis can lead to comorbidities that are fatal.

If it’s not visible it’s not there

Many cases of arthritis are invisible, just because it’s not seen doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Arthritis Facts We Can’t Ignore

  • Nearly 53 million adults in the United States have doctor-diagnosed arthritis; that number is expected to grow to 67 million by 2030. If you don’t have it now, there is a very good chance you’re going to in the next 10 years, keep in mind your age doesn’t always matter.

  • Estimated 350 million people worldwide have arthritis

  • The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which affects an estimated 31 million Americans.

  • Working-age men and women (ages 18 to 64) with arthritis are less likely to be employed than those of the same age without arthritis.

  • Arthritis and related conditions account for more than $156 billion annually in lost wages and medical expenses, it is one of the most expensive conditions to treat for both the patient and the government. It’s incurable and with you for life.

  • Arthritis and other non-traumatic joint disorders are among the five most costly conditions among adults 18 and older..

  • There are nearly 1 million hospitalizations each year due to arthritis.

  • Only 7 percent of all rheumatologists practice in rural areas, where 20 percent of the population lives.

How Can Arthritis Get Serious?

What Qualifies As Arthritis:

  • Adult-onset Still’s disease

  • Ankylosing Spondylitis

  • Back Pain

  • Behcet’s Disease

  • Bursitis

  • Calcium Pyrophosphate Deposition Disease (CPPD)

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  • Chondromalacia Patella

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

  • Cryopyrin-Associated Periodic Syndromes (CAPS)

  • Degenerative Disc Disease

  • Developmental-Dysplasia of Hip

  • Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis

  • Ehlers-Danlos

  • Familial Mediterranean Fever

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Fifth Disease

  • Giant Cell Arteritis

  • Gout

  • Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis

  • Hemochromatosis

  • Infectious Arthritis

  • Inflammatory Arthritis

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease

  • Juvenile Arthritis

  • Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JD)

  • Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)

  • Juvenile Scleroderma

  • Kawasaki Disease

  • Lupus

  • Lupus in Children & Teens

  • Lyme Disease

  • Mixed Connective Tissue Disease

  • Myositis (inc. Polymyositis, Dermatomyositis)

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Osteoporosis

  • Pagets

  • Palindromic Rheumatism

  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

  • Pediatric Rheumatic Diseases

  • Pediatric SLE

  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica

  • Pseudogout

  • Psoriatic Arthritis

  • Raynaud’s Phenomenon

  • Reactive Arthritis

  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

  • Reiter’s Sydrome

  • Rheumatic Fever

  • Rheumatism

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Scleroderma

  • Sjögren’s Disease

  • Spinal Stenosis

  • Spondyloarthritis

  • Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Children & Teens

  • Systemic Sclerosis

  • Temporal Arteritis

  • Tendinitis

  • Vasculitis

To find out more about arthritis please visit The Arthritis Foundation.

Published by Chronic Eileen

Rheumatoid arthritis advocate, writer and speaker.