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Arthritis Basics

Arthritis is a group of conditions where there is damage caused to the joints of the body. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability over the age of 65. While many people often think that arthritis describes one condition, there are actually hundreds of different medical conditions that are commonly referred to as arthritis. Arthritis problems are caused due to an inflammation of the affected joint, and the condition is trademarked by swelling, stiffness, and pain in the affected area.

            All arthritides feature pain. Patterns of pain differ among the arthridities and the location. Osteoarthritis is classically worse at night or following rest. Rheumatoid arthritis is generally worse in the morning and in the early stages, patients often do not have symptoms following their morning shower. In elderly people and children, pain may not be the main feature, and the patient simply moves less (elderly) or refuses to use the affected limb (children). Two of the most common forms of arthritis are known as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is commonly referred to as degenerative joint disease, and it is often brought about by the general wear that our bodies face throughout life. Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the knees, hips, hands, or the spine, and those with the problem face symptoms of pain, tenderness of the area, decreased functionality of the area, and swelling. Oneís risk of developing osteoarthritis increases with age, and the condition usually debilitates over time. Rheumatoid arthritis is a very different type of arthritis; itís a disease in which the human immune system mistakes the cell linings of the affected joint as an invader, and attacks them. Itís a chronic disease that can potentially cause a complete disability of the affected joint, and those with rheumatoid arthritis often face symptoms of joint pain, stiffness, loss of function and a swelling of the afflicted area.

            There are many other types of arthritis, including juvenile arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, fibromyalgia, gout, pseudogout, and scleroderma. These different sub-classifications of the disease can be caused by numerous factors, and they all relate to inflammation of a joint in one way or another. The treatments used to aid these diseases vary according to the type of arthritis faced. In addition, different degrees of severity of the diseases merit different types of treatment. With over two hundred different types of arthritis, itís tough to address all of them in a short article. Medicine, physiotherapy, exercise programs, and surgery are all recommended treatments for various types of arthritis.

            When it comes to a clinical diagnosis for arthritis, several techniques are used. Health care professionals often employ the use of blood and urine tests, as well as reviewing your past medical history and family history of arthritis when diagnosing the disease. In addition, the use of x-rays and magnetic resonance imaging may be called upon to better diagnose the disease. Arthritis is a disease that is quite unpredictable; those who are afflicted with it often experience little trouble with the disease for an extended period of time, and experience completely unexpected Ďflaresí of pain. For that reason, when arthritis is diagnosed, doctors often set up a treatment plan based off of the pain experiences that youíve been having over a long period of time. Just because the disease may have tapered off for a little while does NOT mean that the problem is disappearing. Arthritic pain ebbs and flows, and itís important to realize that even small amounts of pain should be properly treated. If you suspect that you may have arthritis, itís important to speak to your doctor to discuss possible treatments.


Arthritis:  Overview


It begins innocently enough.  Your knee occasionally hurts.  You shrug the pain off.  After all, youíre too young for it to be . . . well, arthritis.  But the discomfort persists so you visit your personal health care practitioner.


Up until very recently, just about every medical expert knew two things about arthritis.  First, thatís itís the result of the natural wear and tear of your joints.  Thatís why at one point this disease was officially called degenerative joint disease.  And secondly, once the process begins, there is nothing that can be done to reverse the damage.


My, how times have changed!  While itís true that no ďcureĒ exists for this painful condition, we now have plenty of ways to slow its progress down and even help reverse some of the very worse symptoms.


What we call arthritis is labeled as osteoarthritis by the medical community (ďosteoĒ means bone).  It is, without a doubt, the most common form of arthritis around.  But itís by no means the only form. 


Ever had a bout of gout?  Thatís a form of arthritis.  Know anyone with rheumatoid arthritis?  Yep, thatís part of this family of diseases too. But if you know anyone with fibromyalgia, bursitis, or even tendonitis, then you know individuals who suffer from arthritis.


Arthritis, the kind that occurs when the cartilage in your joints wears down with use, is the most common type of arthritis.  And it can affect any joint in your body.  Most commonly, though, it affects just one joint, perhaps your hip, or your knee. Some individuals find that several joints are affected, as with arthritis in the fingers.


There are few things we know for certain.  If youíre overweight, youíre more likely to suffer from arthritis.  If youíre a woman, youíre more likely to develop this disease.  Though, to be truthful, science doesnít know the ďwhyĒ to that fact yet. If youíre older than 40 your chances of acquiring some form of arthritis are also increased.


And once you develop gout, Pagetís disease or even rheumatoid arthritis, then you run a greater risk of developing osteoarthritis.


And finally, some individuals who were born with misshapen bones or defective cartilage also have a greater chance of developing arthritis.


Sadly, the treatment for this disease seems to only cause more problems.  The standard over-the-counter remedies -- ibuprofen, acetaminophen and aspirin Ė ease the pain for short periods.  However, for those with moderate or severe pain, the quantity needed to alleviate the symptoms carry dangerous side effects Ė including abdominal bleeding.


While the medical community thought it had a safer alternative in some of the prescription medications Ė like Vioxx Ė these too are far too risky to take in the quantity required by my arthritis patients.


That makes a search for natural remedies all the more urgent. 





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