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Arthritis (from Greek arthro-, joint + -itis, inflammation; plural: arthritides) is a group of joint disorders where there is damage caused to the joints of the body. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in people over the age of 55.
There are many different forms of arthritis, each of which has a different cause. The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative joint disease) occurs following trauma to the joint, following an infection of the joint or simply as a result of aging. Furthermore, there is emerging evidence that abnormal anatomy may contribute to early development of osteoarthritis. Other forms of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, which are autoimmune diseases in which the body is attacking itself. Septic arthritis is caused by joint infection. Gouty arthritis is caused by deposition of uric acid crystals in the joint that results in subsequent inflammation. Additionally, there is a less common form of gout that is caused by the formation of rhomboidal shaped crystals of calcium pyrophosphate. This form of gout is known as pseudogout.
History and physical examination
All arthritides feature pain. Patterns of pain differ among the arthritides and the location. Osteoarthritis is classically worse at night or following rest. Rheumatoid arthritis is generally worse in the morning; in the early stages, patients often do not have symptoms following their morning shower. In elderly people and children, pain may not be the main feature, and the patient simply moves less (elderly) or refuses to use the affected limb (children).
Elements of the history of the pain (onset, number of joints and which involved, duration, aggravating and relieving factors) all guide diagnosis. Physical examination typically confirms diagnosis. Radiographs are often used to follow progression or assess severity in a more quantitative manner.
Screening blood tests may be indicated if certain arthritides are suspected. This may include: rheumatoid factor, antinuclear factor (ANF), extractable nuclear antigen and specific antibodies.
Types of arthritis
Primary forms of arthritis:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Septic arthritis
- Gout and pseudogout
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
- Still's disease
- Ankylosing spondylitis
Secondary to other diseases of interest to psychologists:
- Lupus erythematosus
- Henoch-Schönlein purpura
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Reactive arthritis
- Lyme disease
- Familial Mediterranean fever
- Hyperimmunoglobulinemia D with recurrent fever
- TNF receptor associated periodic syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease (Including Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis)
Diseases that can mimic arthritis include:
Treatment options vary depending on the type of arthritis and include physical and occupational therapy, lifestyle changes (including exercise and weight control), and medications (symptomatic or targeted at the disease process causing the arthritis). Arthroplasty (joint replacement surgery) may be required in eroding forms of arthritis.
Psychological factors in the management of the disease
- Arthritis Care (UK non-profit organisation)
- Arthritis Research Campaign (UK non-profit organisation)
- American College of Rheumatologists (US professional body) - also contains classification criteria of important forms of arthritis
- British Society for Rheumatology (UK professional body)
- Arthritis Foundation (non-profit organisation)
- Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center (non-profit organisation)
- Turmeric Extract as Treatment for Arthritis: Recent Research
Musculoskeletal disorders: Arthropathies (M00–M19, 711–719)
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