I thought it would be a good idea to add a short note about definitions. Types of arthritis can be confusing sometimes. This next section is from the Arthritis Foundation at www.arthritis.org. I thought when it came to definitions I would pluck it right from THE professionals! I encourage a visit there for information of all kinds. There are many types of arthritis, over a hundred I think, but for simplicity, I’ll just stick with the big ones here… okay, okay… the ones that I have. Though, as we get older we all get a little or a lot of Osteoarthritis.
“(RA) Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system – which normally protects its health by attacking foreign substances like bacteria and viruses – mistakenly attacks the joints. This creates inflammation that causes the tissue that lines the inside of joints (the synovium) to thicken, resulting in swelling and pain in and around the joints. The synovium makes a fluid that lubricates joints and helps them move smoothly.
Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects the joints of the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles. The joint effect is usually symmetrical. That means if one knee or hand if affected, usually the other one is, too. Because RA also can affect body systems, such as the cardiovascular or respiratory systems, it is called a systemic disease. Systemic means “entire body.
(OA) Sometimes called degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most common chronic condition of the joints, affecting approximately 27 million Americans. OA can affect any joint, but it occurs most often in knees, hips, lower back and neck, small joints of the fingers and the bases of the thumb and big toe.
In normal joints, a firm, rubbery material called cartilage covers the end of each bone. Cartilage provides a smooth, gliding surface for joint motion and acts as a cushion between the bones. In OA, the cartilage breaks down, causing pain, swelling and problems moving the joint. As OA worsens over time, bones may break down and develop growths called spurs. Bits of bone or cartilage may chip off and float around in the joint. In the body, an inflammatory process occurs and cytokines (proteins) and enzymes develop that further damage the cartilage. In the final stages of OA, the cartilage wears away and bone rubs against bone leading to joint damage and more pain.
Inflammatory arthritis is a group of diseases characterized by inflammation of the joints and often other tissues. These include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) among others.
(Not Arthritis but…)
Fibromyalgia is a condition associated with widespread chronic pain, fatigue, memory problems and mood changes. Fibromyalgia is not a single disease, but a constellation of symptoms that can be managed. It is not life-threatening and does not lead to muscle or joint damage.
Fibromyalgia affects more than 3.7 million Americans, the majority of whom are women between the ages of 40 and 75, but it also affects men, young women, and children. People with other rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, are at greater risk for fibromyalgia. For example, about 20 to 30 percent of people with rheumatoid arthritis also develop fibromyalgia, although no one knows why.”