Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative arthritis, a condition in which joint cartilage degenerates or breaks down. New tissue, which grows at the ends of bones, now has no cartilage cap to control it. Instead, this new bone forms into strange lips and spurs that grind and grate and get in the way of movement of the joint. Osteoarthritis is common in older people after years of wear-and-tear that thin the cartilage and the bones. Osteoarthritis can also result from diseases in which there is softening of the bone, like Paget\'s disease in which the long bones of the body curve like a bow, or osteoporosis with its bowing of the shoulder called "dowager\'s hump," or other bone degeneration. Other forms of arthritis can also cause a secondary osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is not an inevitable problem of aging. Those who don\'t suffer from it may have their heredity and possibly the strength of their immune systems to thank. Medical science is not quite sure of all the factors that come into play in deciding who gets osteoarthritis and who doesn\'t.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory arthritis. It is second only to osteoarthritis in the number of its victims. It affects primarily the small joints in the hands and feet and the synovium, causing crippling deformities. This is an arthritis that usually starts in middle age or earlier. Estimates of the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis run as high as one person in every hundred, and females are two to three times as likely to suffer from it. It seems to start more in the winter and after some siege of sickness, but it is not considered an infective arthritis. Nobody knows what causes rheumatoid arthritis. There may be some hereditary trait, and there seems to be some connection to viral infections like German measles and serum hepatitis, the liver disease brought on by an injection of one kind or another. Because of this, scientists theorize that rheumatoid arthritis may be an autoimmune disease, one in which the body acts as though it were allergic to itself. The immune system gets mixed up and attacks normal joint tissue instead of the stuff it is supposed to attack.
Polyarteritis Nodosa is also an inflammatory arthritis, fortunately it is a rare form of arthritis. It can lead to complications that are dangerous to life. It affects four times as many males as females, mostly young adults. There is joint and muscle pain, ulcers or sores on the legs and gangrene of the fingers and toes because of interrupted blood supply to those parts. The organs of the body are almost all involved, producing symptoms like sudden blindness, hemiplegia, and heart disease. Aggressive treatment prevents death, which at one time resulted within five years. Miraculously, some cases simply get better for no apparent reasons, called spontaneous remission.
Ankylosing Spondylitis is an inflammatory arthritis of the spine which causes ankylosing or fusing of the vertebrae. It is more common in young men that women, and more common in the population than is generally realized. Statistics show that this condition may affect as many as one in every one hundred persons. There is an Indian tribe in Vancouver, in which over 6 percent of the population suffers from ankylosing spondylitis, and this and other statistics show that there is a strong hereditary element. Ankylosing starts in the lower part of the spine and causes a mild stoop at first. As the vertebrae ankylose further up the spine, the stoop gets more pronounced. If the ankylosis reaches the cervical vertebrae, the head bows and the body makes a C. Now the victim of ankylosing spondylitis can only look downward and within the field of eye movements. This constricted field increases the awkwardness of the person\'s manner of walking. Despite this disability, function is usually good except for fatigue. Sometimes the heart, stomach, and kidneys can be affected by abnormal posture.
Still\'s disease is the other kind of inflammatory arthritis. It is often called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. It is not a young form of rheumatoid arthritis, but it is an inflammatory arthritis of juveniles. Still\'s disease is a rare disease that can affect children to the age of 16, affecting the growth of the limbs so that normal length in one or both legs may not be achieved.