Saturday, January 22, 2011 10:24
Posted in category Arthritis

The joints cause a lot of trouble, for life’s activities often result in a great strain being put upon them. The ligaments which hold the bones together on either side are the toughest material in the body. They are the gristle which you sometimes cannot cut or eat when you are feasting on meat. Nevertheless the leverage which a heavy twisting human body may put upon them will tear them, and produce the familiar swelling with fluid in both the tissues and the joint space.
These acute injuries may be recovered from fairly promptly, but the chronic joint troubles are among life’s greatest bugbears.
Arthritis means inflammation of a joint. However, there is often more than the joint involved, the bone and soft tissues nearby being inflamed or destroyed. Rheumatism is the word often used for this condition and it is a handy one, being inexact and comprehensive and suggesting the patient’s symptoms.
Evidence of this disease is found in all old bones, those of dinosaurs, ape men, old Egyptians, and so on down to your next-door neighbor. They all have had arthritis if they haven’t died very young. This disease does not kill but it cripples, which makes the problem harder. The figures compiled by insurance companies show that it produces twice as much sickness as tuberculosis, three times as much as heart and blood vessel disease, and ten times as much as cancer.
The different types of arthritis can be divided into two groups. In the first the cause is known; in the second it is not. First we have arthritis following an injury, such as baseball finger or sprained ankle. Chronic injury may also cause chronic arthritis. If a person has a badly set fracture of the leg, continual bearing of the weight in the wrong position may ultimately result in arthritis of the knee joint. Also such diseases as tuberculosis or gonorrhea cause arthritis. The outstanding example is gout. This has had great prominence in the past. Every gentleman of social standing in the eighteenth century expected to have his big toe swollen and excruciatingly painful at times. He drank great quantities of port and fermented liquors and ate astonishing quantities of rich foods. This diet had something to do with uric acid in the blood, and often urates formed on the fingers or ears like pieces of chalk which could be picked off.
The second type of arthritis, of unknown cause, comprises rheumatic fever, degenerative or hypertrophic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatic fever does not do permanent injury to the joints. Degenerative arthritis on the whole is not so bad, which is fortunate, for sooner or later almost everybody gets it and there is no predicting how soon or late.  It piles up bone around a joint; gnarled fingers are common. If you have reached middle age, X-ray will probably show some in the spine. The inclination of people to fuss about aches and pains largely determines the severity of the disease. Keep your weight down and use heat and massage for comfort.
Last but worst in this group is rheumatoid arthritis. It makes its victims generally sick and can be crippling to the point of helplessness. Proper care of the patient, such as rest, heat, and therapy, may help a great deal. The use of ACTH, cortisone and the like, although not the miracles advertised at first, is yet of much value and offers great hope for the future.

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