The Science of Arthritis

In order to understand how to handle arthritis pain, you need to understand how the body works and how arthritis can impede the body from working properly. Once someone has a general understanding of the science behind arthritis, one can better understand how to handle arthritis pain and get some arthritis relief.

First of all, there are several different types of arthritis. The two most commonly known forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, there are three other major types of arthritis. These other forms of arthritis are systemic lupus erythematosis, ankylosing spondylitis and gout. Let’s take a look at each:

Systemic Lupus Erythematosis (SLE) – This form of arthritis mainly affects women. It develops in the skin, internal organs and joints.

Ankylosing Spondylitis – This form or arthritis affects the spine and can also affect the ankles, knees, lungs, heart, shoulders and eyes.

Gout – This is a painful affliction mainly for men, about one million of them in the United States alone. Uric acid build up, due to an internal chemical malfunction, forms crystals that get stuck in a joint, generally the big toe, and become inflamed.

Where two bones meet, called joints, are covered with cartilage, also known as gristle. This cartilage is sturdy, elastic, and spongy or compressible, and keeps the bones from moving against each other at the joint. Healthy joints can handle some fairly heavy pressure. For example, when taking a walk a person’s knees handle a force of three to four times a person’s total body weight, while deep knee bends can increase to nine times the body’s weight. Unfortunately, arthritis effects how joints function properly in your body.

Surrounding the bones and cartilage is a strong, fibrous capsule lined with synovium, a thin membrane that lubricates the joint area with fluid. The end result is less friction or smoother rubbing together of the bones. This fluid also feeds the cartilage cells, keeping them healthy, and is “pumped” into them during joint movement. Therefore, lack of movement can be unhealthy. By understanding more about how joints work it is easy to see why exercise plays a crucial role in arthritis relief.

Arthritic joints can be affected with inflammation when bacteria or a virus (or other undesirable element) enters the joint area or when an injury occurs. What happens is when foreign matter enters this area or the area sustains injury, white blood cells, antibodies and other natural “fighting” mechanisms automatically kick in internally to help. These fighters cause swelling, redness and heat as the body fluid moves around. Symptoms of inflammation, one of the uncomfortable issues associated with arthritis pain, are redness, swelling and tender joints.

The exact science of what actually causes arthritis is still being researched. For most forms of arthritis, the causes are unknown. Injury, overuse of joints and mechanical issues with joints (like skeletal abnormalities, worn out joint muscles) can lead to arthritis. Many arthritis experts also point to issues relating to bacteria as one of the main culprits causing arthritis. Heredity, stress, drugs, food allergies and viruses have also been linked to some forms of arthritis. Likewise, diet, poor circulation, and lack of movement have also been connected to arthritis.

While it appears that arthritis may be caused by many factors, the good news is that at least some of these factors can be controlled. Clearly, a healthy diet and plenty of exercise will go along way towards arthritis relief.

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