Arthritis is a family of complex musculoskeletal disorders that consists of more than 100 different diseases or conditions that can affect people of all ages races, and genders.
Three of the common diseases are:
- Osteoarthritis (OA) - The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis is a progressive degenerative joint disease characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage associated with risk factors, such as being overweight/obesity, history of joint injury and age.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) - Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease characterized by the inflammation of the membranes lining the joint, which causes pain, stiffness, warmth, swelling and sometimes severe joint damage.
- Juvenile Arthritis (JA) - Juvenile arthritis is an umbrella term used to describe the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can develop in children ages 16 and younger.
Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, and is actually a more frequent cause of limiting a person's activity than heart disease, cancer and diabetes. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there is strong evidence indicating that both endurance and resistance types of exercise provide considerable disease-specific benefits for people with osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatic conditions.
A growing body of research indicates that exercise, weight management and the avoidance of joint injury can go a long way in helping to prevent OA. Every one pound of weight loss results in four pounds of pressure taken off each knee.
The Arthritis Foundation has information on understanding treatment options, managing pain and recent research to determine the underlying causes, finding more effective treatments and hopefully an eventual cure.