Understanding Arthritis: The Who, What, Where, Why

There are a number of diseases that are more common among the elderly, but arthritis is one of the more common and serious conditions found in many seniors. Arthritis, however, is not a single disease, but is instead a general term used to describe more than a hundred different types of disorders.

How are the Different Types of Arthritis Classified?

Despite there being so many types of arthritis, typically the symptoms are somewhat similar, in most cases involving joint pain and discomfort. One way that the different kinds of arthritis are classified is by whether it is inflammatory or degenerative.

An example of inflammatory arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, which usually causes the areas around the joints to become inflamed and subsequently swell. An example of degenerative arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is actually the most common type of arthritis in seniors.

In addition to being described as inflammatory or degenerative, arthritis can also be classified by the number of joints that are affected by the disease. Monoarthritis is when only a single joint is affected and polyarthritis is when several joints are affected. Oligoarthritis falls in the middle and is when more than one but fewer than five joints are affected.

Yet another way of grouping arthritis is in how it affects similar joints. A symmetrical arthritis will affect both sides of the body equally, so if the right knee joint was affected, the left would be as well. Asymmetrical arthritis is when one joint is affected without the opposite joint being affected, so in the above example, only one knee would show signs of arthritis if it were asymmetrical.

While the symptoms of arthritis are often similar, it is common for different types of arthritis to affect different joints in the body. For example, osteoarthritis is more likely to occur in the knees and hips than rheumatoid arthritis.

The effects of arthritis can be quite serious and often lead to other complications, such as fatigue. In many instances, the damage to the joints also makes many of the common daily tasks an individual must preform much more difficult. This includes things like cooking and other tasks that require being able to easily grasp and manipulate small items.

Who is Affected By Arthritis?

Arthritis is much more common in the elderly, with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis being the most common types of senior arthritis. Since it is more common in seniors, arthritis is often considered an elderly disease, but in actually, arthritis can affect people of any age. Even small children can develop arthritis, but this is not as common.

There is actually still a good deal of mystery surrounding arthritis, but some genetic risk factors have been identified. Also, other factors, like disease and injury can also increase the chance that arthritis will occur.

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