Arthritis affects millions of people, especially those over 45 years of age. Symptoms of arthritis include stiffness, pain, tenderness, and swelling of the joints that lasts for more than two weeks.
The two most common forms of arthritis are Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease that affects the joints and tissues all over the body. The body produces certain enzymes that inflame the joints and tissues, causing stiffness, swelling and a great deal of pain and discomfort. Osteoarthritis refers to the degeneration of the joints due to the destruction of the cartilage. Osteoarthritis gradually wears away the protective cartilage where the bones meet the joints, causing the bones to rub together. This causes a great deal of pain and discomfort, and mobility is greatly compromised. As the bones wear away, painful spurs and deformities may develop.
Conservative treatment involves orthotic and physical therapy, as well as pain and anti-inflammatory medications and injections. Surgery to reconstruct the joint or fuse the bones may be necessary if normal courses of treatment do not offer relief. Surgical intervention is not a cure, nor will it restore the joint to optimum health. It will, however, alleviate pain and increase daily mobility and activity.