The Fundamentals
Joint inflammation, accompanied by swelling, pain, and often changes in physical structure. The etiologies (causes) behind arthritis are many and varied, although more recent studies suggest that pathogenic microbials (bacteria and viral) may play a more central role than previously thought. Although there are more than a dozen broad categories of arthritis (i.e. acute suppurative, allergic, bacterial, generative, gonorrheal, gouty, hypertrophic, juvenile rheumatoid, neurotrophic, palindromic, psoriatic, and rheumatoid), two broader categories are, by general usage, the mostly commonly referred: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis, probably the most common, is marked by progressive cartilage deterioration in synovial joints and in the vertebrae. Risk factors include aging, obesity, overuse or abuse of joints as in sports or strenuous occupations, and trauma. Traditional treatment includes some combination of exercise, heat, rest, weight reduction if needed, and pain management (most commonly a class of analgesis, known as NSAIDS, non-steroidal anti-flammatory drugs, such as iboprofen).
Rheumatoid arthritis, usually more serious, is chronic, systemic, and involves changes to joints and related structures that result in crippling deformities. Rheumatoidism usually begins in middle age and is believed to be caused by autoimmune disease. Risk factors include environmental insult and genetic predisposition. Orthodox therapy is normally more aggressive: in addition to enteric-coated aspirin, and NSAIDS, temporary use of corticosteroids is often employed, which can lead to serious side effects and requires frequent monitoring for adverse effects.

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