ARTHRITIS

Arthritis is caused by inflammation in the joints. Many of the veterans I work with have arthritis in some form. Carrying large packs, holding large weapons on your shoulders, or direct injury to the joint can all result in arthritis. There are more than 100 different diseases that may have similar symptoms, so you need to be assessed by a physician who will look for pain, stiffness, and/or swelling in your joints. Arthritis symptoms can come on suddenly or gradually, and they can be present all the time or come and go.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common types of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease while osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease. Most people who get osteoarthritis are older than age 40.
With osteoarthritis, cartilage at the ends of bones erodes and the joint becomes inflamed. New bone and cartilage may form, creating hard swellings on the joint. Osteoarthritis usually develops in the large joints of the body that support your weight (hips, knees, and lower back), but other joints can also be affected.
Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and may affect more than just the joints. It often starts in the hands, feet, or wrists, but it may spread to the eyes, lungs, nerves, heart, or skin.
People of any age can develop rheumatoid arthritis. But it is more common in women between ages 30 to 60.
While osteoarthritis affects cartilage, rheumatoid arthritis attacks the membrane lining of the joint. With inflammation, the joint membrane thickens and fluid begins to accumulate causing damage to cartilage, bone, or soft tissue.
Treatment for arthritis may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs called NSAIDS to treat pain and other symptoms. Rheumatoid arthritis may be treated with disease-modifying drugs. Prednisone or another corticosteroid may also be prescribed.
For more information, please see: MyHealtheVet.org.

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