Understanding Arthritis    
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Understanding Arthritis
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Arthrus - joint, itis - inflammation.

Arthritis is the inflammation of bones and joints. Arthritis is the number one cause of disability, affecting 25% of the population worldwide. It refers to a group of more than 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that can cause pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints. Certain conditions may affect other parts of the body -- such as the muscles, bones, and some internal organs -- and can result in debilitating complications. If left undiagnosed and untreated, arthritis can cause irreversible damage to the joints.

Arthritis continues to increase both in terms of actual numbers and symptoms, due most likely to increased longevity and active lifestyles. More than $ 8 billion is spent each year on drug treatment. In recent years, arthritis is being more actively treated, as greater emphasis is being placed on improving the treatment of the chronic disease for Quality of Life considerations.

There are several forms of Arthritis which include the two best known:

Rheumatoid Arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an immunological disease characterized by inflammatory arthritis of peripheral small and large joints and associated with a number of other manifestations. Incidence of Rheumatoid Arthritis is reported to be approximately 2% of the world population, with the common inflammatory arthritis at about 10%. Two to three times more women are affected than men, and can start as early as the childhood years, causing life long pain and suffering.

Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, results from the wear and tear of life. The pressure of gravity causes physical damage to the joints and surrounding tissues, leading to pain, tenderness, swelling, and decreased function. Initially, osteoarthritis is non-inflammatory and its onset is subtle and gradual, usually involving one or only a few joints. The joints most often affected are the knee, hip and hand. Pain is the earliest symptom, usually made worse by repetitive use. The incidence of OA is reported to be more than 25% of the world population. With the significant increase in age expectancy and in active lifestyles, in both developed and developing countries, the incidence of osteoarthritis will likely increase significantly over the next decade. Other risk factors include joint trauma, obesity, and repetitive joint use.

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