The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Health & Fitness

June 30, 2013

Arthritis is more than common aches and pains

Aging isn’t always the most glamorous of inevitabilities – skin often sags, wrinkles appear and aches seem to be ever present.

Many people associate those aches with arthritis, which many inaccurately assume to be something that only affects the elderly. But arthritis is more than a common ache or pain for our geriatric friends and family members.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is actually a group of complex musculoskeletal system conditions that affect men and women of all ages and races. In fact, of the 50 million Americans with arthritis, about 300,000 are children.

1. Arthritis and its different forms. At the most basic level, arthritis can be defined as inflammation of one or more joints. There many types of arthritis, but the three main forms are:

• Osteoarthritis. This is the most common form of arthritis. Wear and tear on joint cartilage causes the majority of osteoarthritis cases, but injuries, infections and risk factors like obesity can accelerate the onset of the condition.

• Rheumatoid arthritis. An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your body’s immune system attacks the synovial membrane – the lining of the joint capsule – resulting in inflammation and swelling. Eventually, rheumatoid arthritis may cause extensive joint damage.

• Juvenile arthritis. Juvenile arthritis is an overarching term used to define the many types of arthritis that affect children and teens 16 years old and younger.

2. Symptoms. Although there are many forms of arthritis, most symptoms involve your joints. The common signs of arthritis include:• Pain• Stiffness• Swelling• Redness• Reduced range of motion.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to speak with your health care provider to determine if you are suffering from arthritis.

3. Risks and complications. There are certain factors that make you more susceptible to arthritis, including:

• Genes. Your family history can put you at a higher risk for developing arthritis.

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