March 17th – 23rd is Arthritis Australia’s Arthritis Awareness Week. Even if you don’t have arthritis, you probably know someone who has. There are many types of arthritis and the most common in Australia are oseto-arthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Osteo arthritis is slow-onset arthritis. There’s no specific known cause but risks of development include weight bearing over time, normal ageing, repetitive strain, injury and family history. OA affects 1 in 10 Australians – that’s over 2 million people – with loss of mobility, pain and ongoing discomfort.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory illness. While not as common as OA - it affects 1 in 100 Aussies – the incidence of RA is on the rise. Symptoms include joint stiffness, pain, swelling and inflammation – most often in smaller joints like the hands and feet (although it can occur elsewhere). With RA, pain and symptoms may come and go depending on levels of inflammation, however, RA can cause permanent joint damage and in some cases results in deformity of the joints.
Gout is a type of arthritis that doesn’t receive as much discussion as OA and RA, yet it affects a similar number of individuals as RA (1 in 100). Gout is a painful condition that involves periodic swelling and inflammation of joints, often the feet or legs. Gout is associated with a build-up of waste products in the body and typically affects middle-aged men. Gout is strongly linked to alcohol consumption, a low intake of water and an unhealthy diet. For these reasons, it’s easier to prevent than other forms of arthritis and has better management options and outcomes.
This brief overview may help you understand some of the most common types of arthritis and the threat they pose to general health. Some less common but no less debilitating arthritic conditions include:
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Juvenile arthritis
- Systemic Lupus
You can learn more about the incidence and types of arthritis, treatment options and current research by visiting the Arthritis Australia website at www.http://www.arthritisaustralia.com.au/index.php/arthritis-information.html.