Arthritis can be defined as inflammation and swelling of the cartilage and lining of the joints, generally accompanied by an increase in the fluid in the joints. It is a frequent component of other complex diseases and can accompany more than 100 disorders. The feet are more susceptible to arthritis since each weight-bearing foot has 33 joints that can be affected. Arthritis affects almost 40 millions Americans from infancy to adulthood.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, frequently called degenerative joint disease. Although it can be brought on suddenly by an injury, its onset is generally gradual; pain gets progressively more severe, although it can be relieved with rest. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory system of diseases; a crippling disorder considered to be the most serious form of arthritis. Throughout the duration of the disease it can affect more than one dozen smaller joints often in a symmetrical pattern – for example: both ankles, both knees, both thumbs. RA is often accompanied by signs and symptoms and it may affect various systems of the body, such as the eyes, lungs, heart, and nervous system. RA is characterized by periods of remission during which symptoms disappear, and exacerbation, which is marked by the return of inflammation, stiffness, and pain. Serious joint deformity and loss of motion frequently result from acute rheumatoid arthritis. Women are more likely than men to suffer RA. Gout (gouty arthritis) is a condition caused by a buildup of the salts of uric acid in the joints. A single big toe joint is commonly the affected area, possibly because it is subject to so much pressure in walking; attacks of gouty arthritis are extremely painful, perhaps more so than any other form of arthritis. Men are more likely to be afflicted than women, suggesting that gout may be hereditary.
The goals during treatment of arthritis are controlling inflammation, preserving joint function (or restoring it if it has been lost), and curing the disease if possible.