ARTHRITIS 

"Arthritis" means joint inflammation. Although joint inflammation is a symptom or sign rather than a specific diagnosis, the term arthritis is often used to refer to any disorder that affects the joints. There are many types of arthritis, including ankylosing spondylitis, gout, juvenile arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.  Medications and surgery can treat arthritis.  Activities that can help reduce symptoms at home include exercise; hot and cold therapies; relaxation therapies; splints and braces; and assistive devices. 

There are different types of arthritis. in some diseases in which arthritis occurs, other organs, such as your eyes, heart, or skin, can also be affected. 

Fortunately, current treatments allow most people with arthritis to lead active and productive lives.

BASAL JOINT ARTHRITIS

This type of arthritis occurs in the base of the thumb that allows swivelling and pivoting. It tends to wear out from everyday use, causing pain, stiffness and arthritic symptoms. It can affect both hands and is common amongst women over forty and men who have worked with their hands for many years. Degenerative basal joint arthritis can develop as a result of normal use and the natural ageing process.

BEHCET'S DISEASE

This autoimmune disease results in damage to blood vessels throughout the the body. The disease causes blood vessels to become inflamed. Behcet's disease affects each person differently. Symptoms include mouth sores, genital sores, inflammation inside of the eye and skin problems. Other symptoms may include blood clots, arthritis, and inflammation in the central nervous system and digestive system. Treatment typically focuses on reducing discomfort and preventing serious complications.

COSTOCHONDRITIS, Also known as Fibrositis

or Tietze’s syndrome

A soft- tissue form of arthritis that causes inflammation of the rib cage near the breastbone, which is a common cause of chest wall pain. The key symptom is pain along the edges of the breastbone and not in the centre portion of the chest under the breastbone. Many patients and doctors can occasionally be thrown off a correct diagnosis as the pain can radiate into the arms, shoulders or the entire chest area.

DIFFUSE IDIOPATHIC SKELETAL HYPEROSTOSIS

or DISH

A degenerative form of arthritis which causes calcification along the sides of the vertebrae. Once known as Forestier Disease. Causing widespread calcification and ossification of the anterolateral ligaments of the spine, it can lead to ankylosis. However strict criteria distinguishes it from degenerative disc and joint disease and ankylosing spondylitis. It can also cause inflammation and growth where tendons and ligaments attach to bone e.g. the elbow, knee and heel of the foot.

FIBROMYALGIA

Fibromyalgia is the second most common condition affecting your bones and muscles. Yet it's often misdiagnosed and misunderstood. Its classic symptoms are widespread muscle and joint pain and fatigue.
There's no cure. But a combination of medication, exercise, managing your stress, and healthy habits may ease your symptoms enough that you can live a normal, active life.

FUNGAL ARTHRITIS OR MYCOTIC ARTHRITIS

A type of arthritis caused by an infection from a fungus. Fungal arthritis is the rarest type of arthritis and is caused by any invasive fungi. These fungi may affect bone or joint tissue. Fungal infections are caused by microscopic organisms. They live on the dead tissues of the hair, nails and outer skin layers.

GIANT CELL ARTHRITIS or GCA

This is a type of vasculitis which occurs due to necrosis (death) of one or more arteries. GCA can exist independently or coexist with or follow Polymyalgia Rheumatica. Also known as temporal arteritis and cranial arteritis. GCA occurs mostly in the head especially in the temporal arteries that branch from the carotid artery of the neck. However it can be systemic, affecting multiple medium-to-large sized arteries anywhere in the body. Symptoms include persistent headaches, accompanied by flu-like symptoms or weight loss.

GONOCOCCAL ARTHRITIS

An infectious (septic) form of arthritis which occurs in those who are affected with gonorrhea. Two forms are found, one with skin rashes and multiple joint involvement and a second form in which disseminated gonococcemia leads to infection of one joint. Gonococcal arthritis is the most common acute septic form of arthritis found in young adults.

GOUT

Pain and inflammation occur when too much uric acid crystallises and deposits in the joints.
Symptoms of gout include severe pain, redness and swelling in joints, often the big toe. Attacks can come suddenly, often at night.
During an acute attack, anti-inflammatory medications can help relieve pain and shorten the length of the attack. Patients with chronic gout can use behavioural modification such as diet, exercise and decreased intake of alcohol to help minimise the frequency of attacks. Additionally, patients with chronic gout are often put on medications such as colchicine.

HENOCH-SCHONLEIN PURPURA

Polyarthralgia and a non-deforming arthritis, most frequently affecting knees and ankles, are common manifestations of this disorder. Other features include nonthrombocytopenic purpura, abdominal pain, and glomerulonephritis. The syndrome is rare in adults.

LEGG-CALVE PERTHES DISEASE

A disease that affects the femoral epiphysis or the top of the long leg bone inside the socket. It’s caused by an interruption of the blood supply so the bone tissue dies and collapses. The bone breaks across the top, blood supply comes back and the bone regrows. However there are long term problems. Symptoms include stiffness, and pain in the thigh and knee. The thigh muscles on the affected side are smaller than the healthy side. This disease is also found among children. The older the child, the more serious the disease becomes. Treatment includes bed rest, stretching exercises, and regular check-ups. Some children might need a cast or brace. In severe cases surgery is needed to fix the deformity.

LYME DISEASE

An illness caused by ticks. Ticks are known as vectors for the pirochete Borrelia Burgdoferi which causes the disease. Characteristics include skin rash, joint inflammation and flu-like symptoms. Borrelia burgdoferi is transmitted through the bite of a deer tick. If not treated then the disease can progress to a second and third stage. Joint problems usually occur in the last stage.

MIXED CONNECTIVE TISSUE DISEASE OR (MCTD)

MCTD is caused by an overlap of clinical conditions such as lupus, scleroderma and polymyositis, dermotomyositis and rheumatoid arthritis and is common among patients with a combination of any of these diseases. Connective tissues are structural portions of the body that hold cells together. Some people might have lupus with secondary rheumatoid arthritis as well as scleroderma or vice versa.

MULTICENTRIC RETICULOHISTIOCYTOSIS 

(Lipoid Dermatoarthritis)

This rare disorder usually begins in the middle decades of life and affects females three times more frequently than males. It is characterized by the development of multiple histiocytic nodules in the skin and severe polyarthritis that may simulate rheumatoid arthritis. The firm reddish-brown or yellow papular nodules are most commonly found on hands, forearms, head, neck, and chest. Mutilating joint destruction, especially in the interphalangeal joints, occurs in approximately one half of patients with this syndrome. Diagnosis is made by demonstration of histiocytes and multinucleated giant cells containing PAS-positive material in skin or synovium. Similar infiltrates have been observed in other organs. Reports of apparent benefit from adrenocorticosteroid or immunosuppressive therapy is difficult to interpret because of the tendency for spontaneous remission in this disorder.

OSTEOARTHRITIS

A degenerative form of arthritis found mainly in older patients from general wear and tear, and resulting either from overused or previously damaged joints or from hereditary factors. It is the most common form of arthritis. The majority of knee and hip replacements are performed in order to restore mobility and reduce the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis.

OSTEOPOROSIS

Thinning of the bones seen mostly in postmenopausal women and older men, causing weak and easily broken bones, especially of the spine, hip and wrist. Adequate calcium intake throughout life will help prevent this 'silent disease' - so called because there are no symptoms until the bone breaks.

PAGET'S DISEASE (OSTEITIS DERFORMANS)

A type of metabolic bone disease that is caused by normal bone formation that gets altered, thus changing the strength and shape of bones which results in bone destruction and bone deformity. Although not rare, this disease is most common in the United Kingdom. About 5 out of every 100 people over 50 years of age in the UK have Paget’s disease.

POLINDROMIC RHEUMATISM

A rare inflammatory type of arthritis often mistaken for rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms include multiple and recurrent attacks affecting one to a few joints, with tissue inflammation around and adjacent to them.

POLYMYALGIA RHEUMATICA

A specific condition seen mostly in patients of Caucasian descent older than 50, causing severe pain and stiffness of the hip and/or shoulder girdle and characterized by high blood sedimentation rates in samples. It responds dramatically to small doses of prednisone and leaves no damaged joints or tissue.

RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME

This sleep disorder is characterized by sensations in the lower legs which lead to discomfort unless the legs are moved. Several rheumatic conditions are associated with restless legs syndrome including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Symptoms include tickling, itching and feeling as though there are bugs crawling on your legs.

RHEUMATIC FEVER

This systemic inflammatory disease can involve the nervous system, the heart, the skin and the joints. Rheumatic fever develops after streptococcal infections. Symptoms may include polyarthritis, skin rashes and nodules. This disease can occur at any age. It frequently occurs in children between the age of 6 - 15 years of age.

RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS

A systemic form of inflammatory arthritis affecting one’s general health as well as a variety of one’s joints. There are very specific criteria for its diagnosis. Modifying treatment is becoming more and more effective. If left untreated the disease could affect any anatomical part of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common of the auto-immune arthritis diseases, found in about 1 in 100 people worldwide.

SJOGREN'S SYNDROME 

Sjogren's (SHOW-grins) syndrome is a disorder of your immune system identified by its two most common symptoms — dry eyes and a dry mouth.

The condition often accompanies other immune system disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. In Sjogren's syndrome, the mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands of your eyes and mouth are usually affected first — resulting in decreased tears and saliva.

Although you can develop Sjogren's syndrome at any age, most people are older than 40 at the time of diagnosis. The condition is much more common in women. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms.

Symptoms:
The two main symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome are:

1.) Dry eyes. Your eyes might burn, itch or feel gritty — as if there's sand in them.
2.) Dry mouth. Your mouth might feel like it's full of cotton, making it difficult to swallow or speak.


Some people with Sjogren's syndrome also have one or more of the following:

Joint pain,

swelling and

stiffness
Swollen salivary glands — particularly the set located behind your jaw and in front of your ears
Skin rashes or dry skin
Vaginal dryness
Persistent dry cough
Prolonged fatigue

Causes

Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune disorder. Your immune system mistakenly attacks your body's own cells and tissues.

Scientists aren't certain why some people develop Sjogren's syndrome. Certain genes put people at higher risk of the disorder, but it appears that a triggering mechanism — such as infection with a particular virus or strain of bacteria — is also necessary.

In Sjogren's syndrome, your immune system first targets the glands that make tears and saliva. But it can also damage other parts of your body, such as:

Joints

Thyroid

Kidneys

Liver

Lungs

Skin

Nerves

Risk factors

Sjogren's syndrome typically occurs in people with one or more known risk factors, including:

Age. Sjogren's syndrome is usually diagnosed in people older than 40.

Sex. Women are much more likely to have Sjogren's syndrome.

Rheumatic disease. It's common for people who have Sjogren's syndrome to also have a rheumatic disease — such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

Complications

The most common complications of Sjogren's syndrome involve your eyes and mouth.

Dental cavities. Because saliva helps protect the teeth from the bacteria that cause cavities, you're more prone to developing cavities if your mouth is dry.

Yeast infections. People with Sjogren's syndrome are much more likely to develop oral thrush, a yeast infection in the mouth.

Vision problems. Dry eyes can lead to light sensitivity, blurred vision and corneal damage

Less common complications might affect:

Lungs, kidneys or liver. Inflammation can cause pneumonia, bronchitis or other problems in your lungs; lead to problems with kidney function; and cause hepatitis or cirrhosis in your liver.

Lymph nodes. A small percentage of people with Sjogren's syndrome develop cancer of the lymph nodes (lymphoma).

Nerves. You might develop numbness, tingling and burning in your hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy).

SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS

(SLE, or LUPUS)

An autoimmune disease primarily affecting the skin and vascular system, as well as the joints and many of the other internal organs. Most but not all patients with lupus develop a butterfly-shaped rash on the face. It affects predominantly young women aged between 15-40 with a strong familial tendency among first-degree relatives. In the US, Black and Hispanic people are the main sufferers and in South Africa, people of mixed lineage are more affected than either blacks or whites.

SYSTEMIC SCLEROSIS (SCLERODERMA)

A collagen-vascular disease causing tight skin as well as organ damage in some cases. It is vital to seek advice early on.

Scleroderma is a family of diseases usually characterised by hardening of the skin. 

 

In medical definitions, different words are used to describe this family of diseases and they all have slightly different meanings:

Scleroderma: used to describe the sclerosis (hardening) of the skin (derma), specifically. However, scleroderma is the term that is often used to refer to all types of sclerosis; both the skin changes and the changes in other tissues and organs in the body (systemic sclerosis)


Systemic: used when a disease affects a number of different tissues and organs in the body
Sclerosis: used to describe the hardening of tissues in the body


To use the words correctly, it can help to understand how they relate to each other.

‘Scleroderma’ is roughly divided into two forms, ‘localised scleroderma’ (also called morphoea) and ‘systemic sclerosis’. Systemic sclerosis is then divided into four subtypes: limited cutaneous, diffuse cutaneous, sine scleroderma and overlap syndrome.

The subtypes of systemic sclerosis help doctors get a better picture of the symptoms and problems you may experience, and to develop a treatment plan you might benefit from.

The terms scleroderma and systemic sclerosis are often both used to mean the type of scleroderma that affects several organs in the body, but the correct term is systemic sclerosis.

Scleroderma (also known as systemic sclerosis) is part of a family of diseases that affect connective tissue. Connective tissue is in almost every part of your body. It is what helps to hold your body together. It supports, connects and separates different parts of your body. Because scleroderma affects the connective tissue, symptoms can occur in any area of the body including the skin, muscles, blood vessels and internal organs.

TUBERCULOUS ARTHRITIS

A type of arthritis caused by tuberculosis. Common joints involved are the spine, hips, knees, wrists and ankles. Tuberculous arthritis is a type of infectious arthritis. The hunchback of Notre Dame had a gibbous deformity thought to have been caused by tuberculosis. This type of arthritis is also known as Granulomatous Arthritis.

In a nutshell

We are the only body in our country that provides non-medical support for arthritis patients, their families and carers.

To do this we are involved in a wide range of education and support programmes, in providing access to information about  diseases, and by advocating the interests of people with arthritis in government, medical and media circles.

Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) Number: 930011128

Non Profit Organisation Registration Number: 002-847-NPO

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Email: info@arthritis.org.za

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