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WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America
WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America

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Arthritis

Description: There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, and the cause of most types is unknown. Arthritis means the inflammation of a joint, whether as the result of a disease, an infection, a genetic defect or some other cause.

Symptoms: The inflammation causes pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints and connective tissues. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not fully understood, though research suggests it is an autoimmune disorder; osteoarthritis is an inflammatory condition common among the elderly; and infectious arthritis, which can include fever symptoms, is caused by a bacterial or viral invasion of the joints and typically comes on the heels of an illness.

Number of Americans diagnosed: More than 40 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis.

Long-term problems/treatments: Treatment generally includes occupational or physical therapy, exercise, medications and sometimes surgery to correct joint damage. Sometimes arthritic damage can be slowed or stopped, but in many cases the damage continues as the disease runs its course, regardless of whether drugs or other therapies are used to relieve the symptoms. Aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as ibuprofen are often prescribed. In more advanced cases, corticosteroid injections are used to ease the pain and stiffness of affected joints.
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The Arthritis Foundation

Arthritis National Research Foundation

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

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