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Arthritis Awareness Month

6 million Canadians struggle with the pain and disability of arthritis. There are over 100 different types and it is the most expensive chronic disease in Canada, costing the economy an estimated $33 billion per year. Arthritis isn’t just about aches and pains. It is a serious, life-altering disease that impacts people of ALL ages. It can cut careers short, make daily life extremely challenging and lead to life-threatening complications like heart attack, stroke and hip fracture.  

 

Symptoms

The most common signs and symptoms of arthritis involve the joints. Depending on the type of arthritis you have, your signs and symptoms may include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Decreased range of motion

 

The two main types of arthritis — osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis — damage joints in different ways.

 

Osteoarthritis

The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis involves wear-and-tear damage to your joint's cartilage — the hard, slick coating on the ends of bones where they form a joint. Cartilage cushions the ends of the bones and allows nearly frictionless joint motion, but enough damage can result in bone grinding directly on bone, which causes pain and restricted movement. This wear and tear can occur over many years, or it can be hastened by a joint injury or infection.

Osteoarthritis also affects the entire joint. It causes changes in the bones and deterioration of the connective tissues that attach muscle to bone and hold the joint together. It also causes inflammation of the joint lining.

 

Rheumatoid arthritis

In rheumatoid arthritis, the body's immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule, a tough membrane that encloses all the joint parts. This lining (synovial membrane) becomes inflamed and swollen. The disease process can eventually destroy cartilage and bone within the joint.

 

Risk factors for arthritis include:

Family history. Some types of arthritis run in families, so you may be more likely to develop arthritis if your parents or siblings have the disorder. Your genes can make you more susceptible to environmental factors that may trigger arthritis.


Age. The risk of many types of arthritis — including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout — increases with age.


Your sex. Women are more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis, while most of the people who have gout, another type of arthritis, are men.


Previous joint injury. People who have injured a joint, perhaps while playing a sport, are more likely to eventually develop arthritis in that joint.


Obesity. Carrying excess pounds puts stress on joints, particularly your knees, hips and spine. People with obesity have a higher risk of developing arthritis.

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Ashley Resnik
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September 14, 2021
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