Arthritis is an inflammatory disease of the joints, including the synovium, cartilage, bone, and supporting tissues. It is the leading cause of disability in the US and there are over 100 different types of the disease. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout.
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Damage to cartilage can lead to the degenerative condition called osteoarthritis. Contributing factors to this may include ageing, obesity, diabetes, injury or inflammatory diseases. The main symptoms of osteoarthritis are pain, stiffness and loss of mobility and function in the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition concerning the immune system attacking the body's own tissues. Cytokines promote the pathogenesis of the condition by maintaining chronic inflammation and driving the degradation of adjacent joint tissue. Macrophages, mast cells, T and B cells accumulate in the synovium which becomes inflamed and infiltrates the surrounding cartilage. This promotes articular destruction, which is mediated by osteoclasts, chondrocytes and synovial fibroblasts. In addition, new blood vessels are created by angiogenesis to supply the hypoxic joint with nutrients.
Arthritis is a debilitating condition which can cause sufferers a great deal of pain. This may be alleviated by certain medications or, in extreme cases, joint replacement surgery.
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