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Arthritis explained

It is estimated that 10 million people in the UK have arthritis, a condition that affects the joints of the body. Though often associated with older people, the fact is that arthritis can affect people of any age. In this edition of the Jobskin® blog, we look in more detail at some of the different types of arthritis.

Website Article image - Mar 2022_Arthritis

Osteoarthritis

With nearly nine million people affected in the UK, osteoarthritis is the most common type and occurs primarily in people of the age of 45 and above. Osteoarthritis can, however, affect people of any age as a result of injury. It is found more often in women than men and also occurs more regularly in people who have a family history of osteoarthritis.

The joints of the body have a lining of smooth cartilage and it is this area that is initially affected by osteoarthritis, causing pain, stiffness and associated difficulties with movement. As the condition progresses, the lining starts to roughen and become thinner, putting more pressure on the ligaments and tendons: this can result in swelling and the formation of osteophytes (bony spurs).

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is thought to affect more than 400,000 people in the UK and usually begins in people who are between the ages of 40 and 50. Women are around three times more likely to be affected by rheumatoid arthritis than men.

With this type of arthritis, the immune system of the body targets joints, leading to swelling and pain. The synovium (outer covering) of the joint is the first place to be affected before the condition spreads across the joint, changing its shape and causing more swelling. This can eventually cause both the cartilage and the bone to break down.

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)

Affecting around 15,000 children and young people in the UK, most types of childhood arthritis are classified as JIA as the exact cause of the condition is unknown. Thankfully, the pain and inflammation caused by the condition often improve as the affected child gets older. The most common types of JIA are:

  • Oligo-articular JIA. This is the most commonly occurring type of JIA and can affect up to four joints in the body, primarily the wrists, ankles and knees.
  • Polyarticular JIA. Also known as polyarthritis, this type affects five or more joints and can either develop gradually or appear suddenly. Symptoms of polyarthritis are similar to those of rheumatoid arthritis found in adults.
  • Systemic onset JIA. This type of JIA begins with seemingly-unrelated symptoms such as fatigue, enlarged glands, fever and rashes. As the condition progresses, it causes swelling and inflammation of the joints. 
  • Enthesitis-related arthritis. Often affecting the joints of the spine and lower limbs, this type or arthritis causes acute swelling at the junctions between bones and tendons. It is also linked to acute uveitis, a painful condition affecting the eyes. 
     

There is currently no known cure for arthritis and so treatment focuses on alleviating the symptoms and slowing the progression of the condition. Treatments include physiotherapy, lifestyle changes and, in severe cases, surgery.

The Orthowrap™ collection from Jobskin® comprises a number of orthoses designed to be worn on affected parts of the body. Offering support and stabilisation, these devices help to improve alignment, prevent excessive motion and reduce pain. Find out more details about the Orthowrap™ collection on our website.

Image credit: Micheile, 2019. Available at: https://­unsplash.­com/­photos/­PpZasS086os