According to the Arthritis Foundation there are 100 to 120 different types of arthritis, which involve one or more joints in the body. The word arthritis comes from the Greek words arth, which means joint and itis which means inflammation or infection.
However in many types of arthritis there is no inflammation of a joint. The Arthritis Foundation believes that a better definition would be problems with a joint, or the ligaments, tendons and muscles near the joint.
Arthritis can cause pain, stiffness and sometimes swelling of the involved joints. Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid and Juvenile Arthritis, Lupus, Fibromylagia, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Gout are all types of Arthritis. For each major type of arthritis there is a different part of a joint involved. A joint is formed when two bones meet for movement. There are six separate parts to each joint:
Cartilage is the tough, material that covers and protects the end of each bone.
Synovial membrane or sac is a sac that protects the joint and produces synovial fluid to oil the joint.
Bursa is a small sac near, but not part of the joint. It too contains lubricating fluid, which is a fluid used by our muscles.
Muscle is the elastic tissue that moves bones.
Tendons are the fibrous cords that attach our muscles to our bones.
Ligaments are shorter fibrous cords that attach bone to bone.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It is defined as a degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage that covers the ends of bones in the joint deteriorates, causing pain and loss of movement as bone begins to rub against bone.
Rheumatoid arthritis, one of the more disabling types of arthritis, is defined as an autoimmune disease in which the joint lining becomes inflamed as part of the bodys immune system activity.
A third type of arthritis, Fibromyalgia, is a type that is not completely understood. There is widespread pain that affects the muscles, ligaments and tendons rather than joints.
Today more than 66 million Americans and over 1 million Kentuckians are living with physician-diagnosed arthritis. Baby Boomers are at greater risk because over half of arthritis occurs in people over the age of 65.
A diagnosis of arthritis doesnt have to mean a lifetime of debilitating pain. There are medications and treatment programs that are designed to help someone with arthritis live a comfortable and normal life. Adopting a healthy life style that includes sensible eating, daily exercise and relaxation is your greatest fight against arthritis. Working with your healthcare provider you can become an active partner in managing your arthritis.
The Franklin County Health Department (FCHD) will be offering the Arthritis Foundations Self Help Care course for persons recently diagnosed with arthritis and Fibromyalgia beginning on March 14. The six-week course offers information on pain medications, diet and exercise, management of stress and fatigue while helping individuals develop their own action plan.
The program will be held at the FCHDs Public Health Center beginning at 5:30 p.m. There is no charge for the program, but registration is required. Call the Health Education Team at 564-5559 to register.
Debbie Howes Fleming is the health education director with the Franklin County Health Department. For more information about column topics or to contact her or the FCHD Community Health Education team, call 564-5559.