The Many Arthritis Types
There are several common arthritis types that we are familiar with, or have suffered from, but there are in fact a large number of types of this disease, over 100 to be exact. Most people at one time or another experienced some form of an "itis", the medical suffix indicating the presence of inflammation. Arthritis is simply an inflammation of one or more of the joints in our body, though some types of arthritis affect other parts of the body including soft tissue and organs. There is a common denominator however, and that common denominator is the presence of inflammation.
Ankylosing Spondylitis Or Osteoarthritis? - Most types of arthritis we seldom hear about, or never hear about. The most common types are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Fibromyalgia is another type, a soft tissue form of arthritis that people have recently become more familiar with, either suffering from it or viewing a host of TV advertisements on this condition. At the other extreme there are some tongue twisters like ankylosing spondylitis, arthritis of the spine, and psoriatic arthritis, associated with the skin condition psoriasis. There are types of arthritis resulting from bacterial infection, arthritis brought about by normal wear and tear of a joint, and arthritis resulting when our immune system gets out of whack and starts attacking parts of the body, as if these parts were infections caused by some foreign substance or agent.
Treatment Successful In Some Cases - Some types of arthritis respond more favorably to treatment to others and some types can be cured completely. Many types need to be caught early if a cure is going to be possible. If not, managing the disease becomes the priority. A few can be life-threatening if left untreated, and a few others can effectively shorten a person’s life span significantly if not treated. This is particularly true of rheumatoid arthritis, the most common type, which affects approximately one out of every one hundred individuals. Most types of course cause varying degrees of discomfort or disability. Osteoarthritis for example, often attacks weight bearing joints, including those in the hips, knees, feet and the spine. Osteoarthritis is closely identified with the aging process. Though not generally curable, there are medications which can at least slow the disease's progress. One cure that is available is the replacement of an affected joint such as a hip or knee.
Some arthritis types, though treatable, in some cases easily treatable, go untreated because they are difficult to diagnose. The aforementioned Ankylosing spondylitis is one of these. Its primary symptom is low back pain, so may be confused with some other disorder causing the same symptom. Polymyalgia rheumatica is another type that is treatable, but has symptoms easy to misdiagnose, in this case stiffness in the shoulders, neck and back. Some forms of arthritis, such as pseudo gout arthritis, coexist with other forms of arthritis and can be very difficult to isolate and correctly diagnose.
The Need For A Correct Diagnosis - A correct diagnosis is really very important for almost all arthritis types. All too often treatment is focused on relieving the pain, this is appropriate, but does not go far enough. The immune system will go on attacking body tissue, especially cartilage in the joints, and though the pain may be controlled, the joints will continue to erode. It's fortunate of course, that the more common forms of arthritis are usually easily diagnosed, although often not quickly enough. If you have aches, pains, or stiffness which do not seem to have any particular cause, it usually means there is inflammation occurring somewhere, and that inflammation could be a form of arthritis. The message is, don't be afraid to see a doctor about aches and pains, and don't be afraid to protest if you're told just to take an aspirin. Aspirin doesn't cure any of the arthritis types.