Senior citizens across the globe suffer from arthritis pain. That being said, you would think that the facts would be much clearer to the general public. There are many myths out there revolving around arthritis pain, making it difficult to truly understand how to shape your life around it and how to cope with the disorder.
Many people, young and old, are under the impression that only the senior population will have to deal with arthritis. This is not true. In fact, many people suffering from arthritis pain are under the age of 65. There are even children being diagnosed with the disorder. While it is true that development of arthritis is common in the elderly, it is by no means exclusive to them.
Arthritis is not just a disease of old age. Two-thirds of people with arthritis are under the age of 65, including 300,000 children. (Arthritis Foundation, 2013)
Arthritis is simply joint pain right? Also not true. Arthritis is a very complex disease of the musculoskeletal system, and it actually has several different branches. Knowing and understanding which branch of arthritis you are dealing with will make a huge impact on how you cope and how well you make the small modifications to your daily life so as to ease the arthritic pains.
The three most common branches of arthritis are probably the only forms we are familiar with: Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Juvenile Arthritis.
Osteoarthritisitself can have many subcategories. But to simplify, osteoarthritis is pain in the joints cause by the cartilage (the cushion between the bones that prevents them from rubbing against each other) being lost over time due to a number of factors. Age plays a role in osteoarthritis based on the “wear and tear” theory. As the years pass, your body has given you the best of itself. And the price we pay for that is the wear and tear of the cartilage in the joints, among other things. It is simply the way of life. Another cause of the cartilage being lost is repetitive motion over the years, for example, a baseball player who is throwing around the ball for years may someday have lost the cartilage in his throwing arm or hand due to repeating that same throwing motion over and over. This also applies for someone like a seamstress who uses her fingers for small detail over the years, or even someone at a desk, who is constantly typing.
Osteoarthritis is known to cause pain, stiffness, and sore achy joints. The symptoms can start out mild and stay that way, or they can progress making day to day activities difficult to carry out. It is hard to predict who will have which symptoms. We’re all different.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services there is strong evidence indicating that both endurance and resistance types of exercise provide considerable disease-specific benefits for people with osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatic conditions. (Arthritis Foundation, 2013)
Rheumatoid arthritis is a little more complex. Where Osteoarthritis comes from wear and tear, Rheumatoid arthritis comes from your body attacking itself. The reason behind why this happens still isn’t clear. We have educated insight as to why this happens, involving genetics and environment. But no definitive answers yet. What we can explain are the mechanics behind Rheumatoid arthritis.
Your body’s immune system has the job of protecting you, and attacking what doesn’t belong, for example the common cold virus. In this case, your immune system, for an unknown reason, begins to see a thin lining of your joints as an unrecognized and potentially harmful invader. Your body begins to attack that joint lining, causing inflammation and swelling to the joints. Fluid will build up at the site of the joint, causing pain, inflammation, heat over the affected area, and a decreased range of motion. In some severe cases, it can cause damage to the cartilage that is there and even some damage to the bones. Unlike Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis can have periods of remission. That being said, you can also have something called a Rheumatoid arthritis flare up in which the symptoms are at a peek high.
Within 20 years the number of people with arthritis will soar. By 2030, an estimated 67 million Americans will have arthritis, unless the trend is reversed. (Arthritis Foundation, 2013)