According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States. Although arthritis is not necessarily debilitating, even mild arthritis can seriously limit an individual's ability to participate in normal, day-to-day activities. Because of this, the CDC Arthritis Program is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people suffering with arthritis. Statistically, about 22% of adults in the United States indicate that they suffer from arthritis. Additionally, 9%of adults (more than 20 million people) in the U.S. suffer activity limitation because of arthritis.

Types of Arthritis

The term arthritis technically refers to join inflammation. However, it can actually refer to more than 100 different rheumatic diseases. Generally speaking, these conditions are symptomized by joint stiffness and pain. Different types of arthritis affect different parts of the patient's body and to different degrees. Even children are susceptible to arthritis. According to CDC, approximately 80,100 children in the United States suffer from childhood arthritis. Depending on the severity of the condition, children who develop childhood arthritis may develop short stature in adulthood. In some cases, childhood arthritis is the result of an infectious disease.

Fibromyalgia is an arthritic condition symptomized by abnormal pain. Individuals suffering from this condition may have trouble sleep, feel chronically fatigued and develop psychological distress. Additionally, fibromyalgia patients may feel stiff in the morning, experience tingling sensations in their hands and feet, suffer from headaches and have difficulty processing information or remember things correctly. Fibromyalgia affects about 5 million people in the United States – most of which are women. Approximately .5% of men have developed this condition, whereas 3.4% of women have. Fibromyalgia affects middle-aged women more than any other demographic.

Common Forms of Arthritis

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common forms of the disease. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage and underlying bone within a patient's joint degenerates. The bony overgrowth may suffer, too. As the tissues in the joint break down, the individual may suffer joint stiffness and pain. According to CDC, individuals who develop osteoarthritis are usually affected in their knees, hips, and hands. Osteoarthritis is a gradual disease without a known cure. However, doctors are able to treat osteoarthritis symptoms and improve patients' ability to move.

Rheumatoid arthritis is another common form of the disease. Generally speaking, it is a systemic inflammatory disease that affects many of the body's joints at the same time. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when an individual's joints become inflamed, gradually damaging the lining of the joints and the patient's organs. The inflamed joints may lead to cartilage and joint erosion and deformity. Rheumatoid arthritis can be extremely debilitating and may lead to premature mortality. Any arthritic disease may affect the patient's quality of life, but rheumatoid arthritis is especially adverse.

Orthopedic Treatment Options

Although there is no cure for arthritic diseases, doctors have developed medical ways to manage pain and increase patients' quality of life. Serious cases of arthritis limit the individual's ability to move properly and participate in every-day, normal activities. Because of this, doctors focus on helping patients cope with their condition. Treatment options could include:

  • Arthritis Medication
  • Physical Therapy
  • Joint Assistive Aids
  • Support Groups
  • Weight Loss
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Surgery

Patients with arthritis are encouraged exercise, too. Studies have indicated that people with arthritis may be able to minimize the symptoms of the disease by exercising five or more times every week. Additionally, exercise helps people feel more energetic. Any activity the increases the patient's heart rate may be considered exercise. Arthritis patients are encouraged to walk, ride bicycles, and swim. Everyday activities, such as gardening or dancing may be considered a form of exercise as well.