What Is Arthritis?
What is arthritis? The term arthritis literally means joint inflammation, and is inflammation of the joints of where two bones meet. The term is actually used to describe a variety of disorders, and there are over one hundred different types of arthritis.
Arthritis is an immediate concern of many people because of the constant pain associated with it. The pain is caused by an inflammatory response that causes swelling in the affected joint. Arthritis is the inflammatory response in the joint caused by disease in the joint, a chronic autoimmune disease affecting the joint, daily wear and tear of joint, muscle strains in the joint caused by forceful movements, and fatigue.
Inflammation in the form of acute inflammation is a protective process that heals the body against injury and disease.
Acute inflammation is a process where the body increases blood flow to capillaries in an area of the body that has been injured or infected. The capillaries also allow more fluids, proteins, white blood cells, and pro-inflammatory cells to escape the capillaries and to enter the affected area.
This action causes the damaged or infected area to swell with these fluids to maximize the healing process. Under normal circumstances the acute inflammation is turned off after the infected or injured area has been healed.
With arthritis the inflammation is not turned off, becomes chronic inflammation, and is destructive to cells in the body.
Symptoms of Arthritis
Symptoms of arthritis will vary depending on the type of arthritis. The most common forms of arthritis include osteoarthritis arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, infectious arthritis, juvenile arthritis, and gout. Arthritis can also be a secondary disease to psoriasis, hepatitis, Lyme disease, or lupus.
Osteoarthritis arthritis has been thought of as a degenerative joint disease caused by accumulated wear and tear of the joint. This wear and tear causes a breakdown of the cartilage which causes the bones of a joint to rub against each other.
As osteoarthritis progresses inflammation can occur in the joint, which was thought to be the result of cartilage breaking off in the joint causing an inflammatory response.
However recent studies have shown inflammation in the lining of the joint during the early stages of osteoarthritis even though the joint cartilage appeared to be normal. Inflammation and not wear and tear may be the cause of osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis may include joint pain and progressive stiffness that develops gradually.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the synovial membrane that protects and lubricates joints. This lining becomes inflamed and swollen, and the disease can eventually destroy cartilage and bone within the joint.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may include painful swelling and stiffness of the fingers, arms, legs, and wrists as a result of the inflammatory process.
Infectious arthritis is also known as bacterial, purulent, septic, and suppurative arthritis. It is caused by infection in a joint by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites.
Symptoms often include fever, chills, general weakness, and headaches, followed by inflammation and painful swelling in a joint or joints of the body.
Gout is a recurring acute inflammatory response to elevated levels of uric acid in the blood, and in most cases it affects the big toe. It also affects other joints like the fingers, heels, knees, and wrists.
Symptoms of gout include inflammation and redness in the joint, which usually occurs overnight.
Treatment for arthritis ranges from rest, to occupational or physical therapy, exercise, drugs, and sometimes surgery to correct joint damage.
Arthritis treatment will depend on the nature and seriousness of the underlying condition. The main goals of treatment include the reduction of inflammation and improved function of affected joints and include:
- Occupational Therapy
- Physical Therapy
Antibiotics are used to treat infections which cause arthritis, while anti-inflammatory drugs are used to reduce pain and inflammation. Studies show that a low-fat plant based diet can protect against and treat arthritis.
A arthritis treatment using plant based diet would eliminate many substances from the diet that are found in meat, which cause inflammatory reactions in the body. It also reduces infections caused by diseases, proteins, and toxins found abundantly in factory farmed animals.