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The rapid aging of population in industrialized countries made some age-associated medical problems very common. Arthritis is one of such conditions. This is now a leading cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability. The disease itself is represented as one of the major burden for individuals, health care and social care systems by affects hundreds of millions of people around the world.
Currently, there is no ultimate effective treatment for arthritis, and it is usually managed with pain killers. Joint replacement surgery (which tends to be rather expensive) can be offered in the more severe cases. People affected by arthritis are naturally interested in better ways of managing the condition. The health products market for people affected by arthritis is huge, but unfortunately the effect of various remedies is limited at the best.
General features of arthritis
The term Arthritis refers to the inflammation of joints. The major complaint in arthritis is a chronic localized pain in affected joints, mainly due to the inflammation on and around the joint or damage to the joint incurred by the disease.
It is estimated that arthritis affects more than 46 million people in the US alone, and this count is expected to cross the figure of 67 million by the year 2030.
Out of more than 100 types of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two most severe and prevalent forms, especially among elderly and women. In general, both types of arthritis seem to have common features but the underlying pathological processes are very different in these two conditions. Osteoarthritis is known as degenerative joint disease, primarily due to the concern of joint degradation. Usually the disease affects the joints that bear load (in the hips, feet, knees and spine) and is caused by a variety of triggers such as mechanical injury, infection, obesity, or aging. It often comes with gradual breakdown of cartilage, which results in the loss of cushioning effect of the joint, eventually resulting in inflammation. Contrary to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory autoimmune condition, where the body’s own immune system assaults the joints. The disease affects diverse tissues and organs but mainly attacks flexible (synovial) joints. The disease is typically characterized by the proliferation of cells lining the joints and cells that synthesize the extracellular matrix and collagen, the structural framework of connective tissues. The excessive proliferation of these cells results in the formation of unusual membrane of granulation tissue in the affected joints.