Arthritis is a group of diseases characterized by inflammation of the joints, organs, and other tissues of the body. The inflammation associated with various types of arthritis causes pain and when there is inflammation in the joints, stiffness and reductions in the range of motion and function can also occur. Arthritis can involve almost any part of the body, but is most common in the foot, knee, hip, spine and other weight-bearing joints, but is also found in non-weight-bearing joints like fingers and shoulders.
Types of Arthritis
There are two broad categories of arthritis: osteoarthritis (OA) and inflammatory arthritis (IA).
OA is the most common form of arthritis, affecting more Canadians than all other types combined. Sometimes colloquially referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) leads to the breakdown of cartilage, resulting in bone-on-bone contact within the joint. This contact leads to pain, swelling, stiffness and reduced range of motion and function in the affected joint. For more information, read the detailed Osteoarthritis resource from the Canadian Arthritis Society
Forms of Inflammatory Arthritis (IA) are different from OA in that inflammation is the cause of the degeneration of the joint, not the breakdown of the cartilage. Many forms of IA are also autoimmune disorders, where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in the body. IA includes every form of arthritis except OA. The most common examples of Inflammatory Arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. For more information, read the Inflammatory Arthritis resource from the Canadian Arthritis Society
How to Prevent Arthritis
The fact is, there are no known ways to prevent arthritis. You can, however, reduce your risk factors and delay the onset of certain types of arthritis. Some risk factors, such as age, gender and family history are not modifiable, while others such as weight, smoking, physical activity and diet are modifiable through lifestyle changes and treatment support.
Protect Your Joints
Taking precautions to protect your joints and prevent injury is another important component of preventing the onset of arthritis. Taking care to train safely, use the appropriate protective equipment and participate within the limits of your own body is important in injury prevention and the maintenance of overall joint health.
How People Are Affected by Arthritis
Arthritis affects people differently, depending on the type and severity of their arthritis, as well as the availability and effectiveness of treatments. Many forms of arthritis can lead to episodic disability, and many Canadians living with arthritis experience chronic pain, fatigue, loss of functional ability and lowered mood as a result of their arthritis.
Despite this, thousands of Canadians thrive while living with arthritis. With the right combination of treatments, lifestyle changes and support, arthritis can be successfully managed. For more information on treatment options, talk to your healthcare provider, or visit the Canadian Arthritis Society for additional resources.
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