What is arthritis?
When it comes to getting older, many people think that arthritis comes with the territory. After all, don't we eventually pay the price for all the crazy things we did in our youth? The answer is a resounding NO!
There are two basic types of arthritis. Osteoarthiritis, one of the most common disorders around, involves a degeneration of the bones in one or more of your joints. Contrary to popular belief, arthritic joints are not a normal function of age. Damage to the cartilage that cushions the surface within a joint is how it begins. Once that tissue is damaged, it becomes inflamed, which causes further damage, swelling, and pain. Over time, the cartilage loses its elasticity, thins, and becomes rough and brittle. The cycle of degeneration progresses until the bone surfaces wear down from rubbing against one another.
Rheumatoid arthritis, by comparison, is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system selectively attacks the synovium lining the bony surfaces of the joints. The joints, which are usually affected symmetrically (both hands or wrists, for example), become chronically inflamed, swollen, deformed, and in pain. Most people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis have a genetic susceptibility to the virus that causes it.
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