Arthritis is the term used to cover more than one hundred different conditions. The word itself means “joint inflammation,” and inflammation of the joints is a common sign of the disease. Inflammation is a natural body reaction, but when it lasts for a very long time or keeps coming back—as in arthritis—it can lead to tissue damage.
The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that covers the bone ends gradually wears away. Without the cartilage to provide protection, the bone ends rub against one another, and the friction causes pain and swelling. Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint, but it is most common in the hands and in the joints that bear the body’s weight, such as the knees, hips, and small joints in the spine.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition in which the immune system (the body’s defence system against diseases) malfunctions and attacks the body’s own structures, causing the joints to swell. The inflammation generally affects the cartilage and bone, but in some cases may also affect other body parts including the eyes, skin, and nerves. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect any joint in the body, but it is found most commonly in the hands, wrists, and knees.
Treatments are available to lessen the discomfort of both of these types of arthritis, so don’t suffer in silence. Your Sobeys Pharmacist will be happy to answer your questions about arthritis treatments.