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Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It can affect both the larger and the smaller joints of the body, including the hands, feet, back, hip, and knee. The disease is essentially one acquired from daily wear and tear of the joint; however, osteoarthritis can also occur as a result of injury. Osteoarthritis begins in the cartilage and eventually causes the two opposing bones to erode into each other.
Who it affects: 

Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States. More than 20 million individuals with arthritis have severe limitations in function on a daily basis. Absenteeism and frequent visits to the physician are common in individuals who have arthritis. Arthritis makes it very difficult for individuals to be physically active and many become home bound.

It is estimated that the total cost of arthritis cases is close to $100 billion of which nearly 50% is from lost earnings. Each year, arthritis results in nearly 1 million hospitalizations and close to 45 million outpatient visits to health care centers.

Symptoms: 
Initially, the condition starts with minor pain during activities, but soon the pain can be continuous and even occur while in a state of rest. The pain can be debilitating and prevent one from doing some activities.
Treatment: 
There is no cure for either rheumatoid or osteoarthritis. Treatment options vary depending on the type of arthritis and include physical therapy, lifestyle changes (including exercise and weight control), orthopedic bracing, medications. Joint replacement surgery may be required in eroding forms of arthritis. Medications can help reduce inflammation in the joint which decreases pain. Moreover, by decreasing inflammation, the joint damage may be slowed.
Image Credit: 
Image created by Bev Sykes. This file is licensed under a Creative Commons license.