Arthritis is the result of inflammation, pain and soreness of the joints. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common types of this disease.
Osteoarthritis develops as a result of the continuous wearing away of the cartilage in a particular joint. Cartilage, is a smooth, soft, protective tissue that covers the ends of the bones at the joints. This tissue may become thin and disappear through excessive wear, as seen most often in the elderly. When enough cartilage has worn away, the rough surfaces of the bones rub together, causing not only pain, but stiffness. Weight-bearing joints such as the hips and knees are most affected. Symptoms are intensified during damp weather, upon rising from sleep in the morning, or after strenuous activity.
Rheumatoid arthritis not only affects a particular joint, but the body in its entirety. It destroys not only the cartilage and tissues around the joints, but often the bone surfaces themselves. The body naturally replaces the damaged tissue with scar tissue. This replacement causes the spaces between the joints to become narrow and eventually fuse together, resulting in painful deformities that may affect the quality of life. The result can be crippling, and often includes swelling and joint pain, fatigue, anemia, weight-loss and fever. Symptoms may disappear and recur at a later date.
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