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Arthritis and Arthrosis: how to prevent them and who are most at risk

artrite_reumatoide

Arthritis and osteoarthritis are some of the most common and painful diseases for humans. Specifically, arthrosis (whose term is derived from the Greek arthro “joint” and osi “degeneration”) denotes degenerative disease in joints. It is a disorder that tends to worsen over time involve significant injuries to articular cartilage. The pathology manifests, at first, with a gradual thinning of cartilage causing the bones to come substantially closer together (causing them to become deformed), the nerves to become pinched, and the muscles to stretch more than they should.

Arthritis, on the other hand, is clearly described in the words of Dr. Vincenzo Bruzzese, Past President of SIGR (Italian Society of Gastro Rheumatology), who says, “When we talk about inflammatory arthritis, however, we are referring to a group of autoimmune diseases determined, that is, by the attack by the immune system, towards one’s own tissues, joints but also other organs throughout the body. The resulting joint symptoms include inflammation, pain, stiffness and swelling.”

The numbers

According to official data, osteoarthritis is a condition that affects about 5 million Italians, as well as the leading cause of disability among the elderly. This is a condition that incurs very high costs both directly for the patient, due to the care and rehabilitation therapies he or she must undergo, and indirectly for the state, as there is a major decrease in productivity both on the part of the patient but also of the family members who must assist him or her. For this reason, it is estimated that the state incurs an expenditure of about 10 billion per year to provide care for individuals with osteoarthritis.

Types of arthrosis

In Dr. Bruzzese’s words, “When we talk about osteoarthritis we usually distinguish between a primary and a secondary form. In the former, the causes are unknown. Affecting people with a genetic predisposition and at a younger age, this form is prevalent in the female sex and is characterized by the appearance of nodules at the interphalangeal joints of the hands. Painful symptoms are usually modest, but deformities are progressive and lead to disfigurement and disability. The secondary form is often related to recognizable causes, such as work activities, sports, trauma, obesity. It usually affects the large “weight-bearing” joints, such as the knee, hip, and spine. Pain is significant, especially in flare-ups, and is often accompanied by swelling of the joint. In this form there is no gender prevalence and the disabling progression is more rapid.”

Prevention

Although osteoarthritis is primarily an age-related condition, important preventive work can still be done to avoid the intense pain and limitation in movement that the condition entails. The first and most important preventive work is the
physical activity
. Playing any kind of sport helps strengthen muscles and keep joints supple. Clearly, the ideal would be to practice sports in which the movements are harmonious and do not adversely affect the joints, leading them to wear and tear (swimming, cycling and free exercise, for example, are the most suitable). Another prevention factor is related to temperature changes. They are in fact detrimental to the health of our joints, which is why we need to minimize their effects by adopting the right equipment at all ages.

SPECIALISTI IN EVIDENZA

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