For most age, old age rather itself does turn out to be a form of illness. Despite being conscious of health hazards and taking all the care in the world so as to be able to fight of diseases, one might simply catch up on the symptoms of an aging body in a way or two. When age sets in the body begins to show off its own agenda and one might often have to encounter its ill effects whether or not one has taken care to shake off immediate threats or has seldom over a lifetime throw caution to the air.
Arthritis is one such ailment which often gets the better of an aging individual and makes his/her life a long drawn yarn of pinches and pain. The word arthritis (plural: arthritides) comes from the Greek word arthron which literally means “joint” and the Latin word itis, meaning “inflammation”. Therefore in layman’s terms, arthritis simply means the routine inflammation of the joints. Technically, arthritis affects the musculoskeletal system, specifically the joints and it is the main cause of disability generally among people who are over fifty-five years of age around the world.
If one is diagnosed as a case of arthritis it fundamentally means that something has gone wrong with the joint(s). What indeed has gone wrong depends on what type of arthritis one has. In almost all the cases it could be either of the following:
- The wear and tear of the cartilage about the joint(s)
- The lack of lubricating fluids
- Autoimmunity which entails the self assault of one’s own body
- Combination of one or more factors
The main symptoms of arthritis are pain and stiffness at the joints, which characteristically worsen with age. The two most common types of arthritis are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis: In this case of arthritis the cartilage loses its elasticity and once it becomes stiff it becomes more prone to breakage. The cartilage whose major function is to act as a shock absorber will, therefore, wear away in certain areas which will then result in the stretching of the tendons and ligaments thus causing thorough pain and once the cartilage wears off to a large extent the subsequent bones in a joint begin to rub against each other which further increases the multitude of pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis: This is the inflammatory form of arthritis. The synovial membrane (the membrane that houses the synovial fluid, which is the lubricating fluid in a joint) is attacked, resulting in swelling and pain. If left untreated this type of arthritis can lead to deformity. Rheumatoid arthritis is significantly more common in women than men and generally strikes when the patient is aged between 40 and 60. However, children and much older people may also be affected.
Even though medications are an important part of managing arthritis symptoms medication alone may not be enough. All medical manuals and guidelines suggest taking an active approach that includes medication as well as lifestyle changes such as routine exercise, dietary plans, keeping track of one’s own condition and the latest information regarding the illness and adaptation and adjustment to products of daily use which are more suited to the diseased assist more effectively manage arthritis symptoms.