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Arthritis is a skeletal system disease generally involving the inflammation of the joints. It consists of more than 100 different joint diseases and conditions with symptoms include pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling in or around the joints. The most common type is osteoarthritis, followed by rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, and gout.[1] Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States, limiting the activities of nearly 21 million adults.[2]


  • Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis characterized by degradation of cartilage and the bone under it within a joint. The wear of these tissues eventually leads to pain and joint stiffness. This type of arthritis mostly occurs in the joints of the knees, hips, hands and spine. The direct causes of osteoarthritis are not known. Osteoarthritis' disease attack is gradual and usually begins after the age of 40.[3]
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic inflammatory disease which spreads itself in multiple joints of the body. The beginning of inflammation primarily occurs in the lining of the joints (synovial membrane), and it can also affect other organs. The inflamed synovium leads to wears of the cartilage and bone even sometimes joint malformation. The certain causes are unknown, but RA is mainly caused form a wrong immune response.[3]
  • Fibromyalgia is a syndrome mostly characterized by widespread muscular pains and fatigue. The causes of fibromyalgia are not known, but researchers assume that any kind of stressor is the factor that mainly develops the syndrome. The diagnosis of Fibromyalgia is difficult due to the fact that there is no distinctive characteristic that can be found on clinical pictures.[3]
  • Gout has the characteristic of a rheumatic disease that is resulted from the deposition of uric acid crystals in tissues and fluids within the body. This process develops when an overproduction occurs or under excretion of uric acid.[3]


Prevalence of Arthritis by race

The symptoms of Arthritis are joint pain, limited function of joints, increasing stiffness without visible swelling, chills, and fever. The symptoms of Arthritis; painful swelling, inflammation, and stiffness occur in the same joints on both sides of the fingers, arms, legs, and wrists. Arthritis pain is at its worst during the morning hours. This is a sign of the rheumatoid arthritis. Sometimes, Arthritis is caused by physical injury or another illness; This type of arthritis is called the infectious arthritis. The symptoms in children are little different than in adults. The children who are being doubted would have symptoms of occasional fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, anemia, or blotchy rash on their arms and legs. These symptoms in children may cause the juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Joint stiffness, a limp, or joint swelling are other forms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The Arthritis pain can transform its form from just pains in joints to the various organs of the body that are not related with the joints. Therefore, in some patients, symptoms include fever, gland swelling (swollen lymph nodes), weight loss, fatigue, and even pains of abnormal organs(lungs, heart, or kidneys).[4]


The causes of Arthritis can be divided into two major types:

Non-modifiable causes: There are three natural factors in this type of causes, age, gender, and genetic. These factors are not modifiable.

  • Age: The risk of Arthritis arises as people age. Also, more types of Arthritis become risky as people age. Cartilage becomes more brittle with age and less capable to repair itself.
  • Gender: 60% of patients with arthritis are women. Most types of Arthritis occur more frequently in women then in men;except for Gout. Gout is more common in men.
  • Genetic: There are specific genes that promote a high risk of certain Arthritis types, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematous (SLE), and ankylosing spondylitis.

Modifiable causes: The modifiable factors that promote the occurrence of Arthritis are obesity, joint injuries, infections, occupation, and high-level of sports. People do not have these factors when they born, also it's changeable. But, how much genetic information stimulates to the cause of Arthritis is not identified.

  • Overweight and Obesity: Too much weight can stimulate the progression of knee osteoarthritis. Obesity also damages cartilage with a high pressure.
  • Joint Injuries: Joint damage can cause irregularities in the normal smooth joint surface. Previous major injuries can be the causes of arthritis. An example of an injury leading to arthritis is a tibial plateau fracture, where the broken area of bone enters the cartilage of the knee joint. Joint injuries can develop to osteoarthritis.
  • Infection: Many microbial bacteria can infect joints and gradually cause the development of many types of arthritis. People who have experienced a joint infection , multiple forms of gout, or other medical conditions, can promote arthritis of the joint.
  • Occupation: Certain jobs involving repetitive knee bending and squatting can lead to the osteoarthritis of the knee. The workers of heavy construction and assembly line are examples of the risky occupations to arthritis.
  • Some High-Level Sports: It is difficult to determine how much of sports participation affects on development of arthritis. Absolutely, the participation with a high-level of sports can lead to joint injury and gradual occurrence of Arthritis. However, the sports activities can remove one of the risks of arthritis:overweight or obesity.[5]

Prevalence of Arthritis

Prevalence of Arthritis by age in America

According to the statistics of the National Health Institute(NHI) and the Centers for Disease Control(CDC), 245 out of 1000 Americans are living with Arthritis. This data could be inferred as following: 43 million people have arthritis in the US and 1 in 6 people in the US have arthritis. The prevalence rate in America is increasing, about 60 millions are expected to be future cases in 2020. The number of rate is especially prominent in women, the female occupation is 36 million among the expected number in 2020, 60 million patients. [6]

Obesity and Arthritis

Prevalence Rate of Arthritis by Body Mass Index

According to the survey of Centers for Disease Control, it is proved that as the number of BMI (Body Mass Index) rises of a person, the risk of Arthritis also rises. Here is the result of research:

  • 16.4% of under/normal weight adults report doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
  • 21.4% of overweight and 31.1% among obese Americans report doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
  • 66% of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis are overweight or obese (compared with 53% of adults without doctor-diagnosed arthritis).
  • Weight loss of as little as 11 pounds reduces the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis among women by 50%.

This fact went through many scientific researches not only by CDC but also many authorized health related organizations and doctors. [7]


The treatment of arthritis is mostly based on medication and physical therapy.

For the medications, most of the arthritis patients had been used the common pain reliefs, such as Aspirin and Acetaminophen (Tylenol). However, nowadays, many anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are developed and available. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are medications that are used to reduce pain as well as inflammation in the joints. Examples of NSAIDs are Aspirin (Ecotrin), Ibuprofen (Motrin), Nabumetone (Relafen), and Naproxen (Naprosyn). These drugs are reduce the risk of side effect by modern medical technology. These drugs is used especially with osteoarthritis because its symptoms are various in intensity and can be intermittent. But, there are still some side effects of NSAIDs, the side effects most commonly involve gastrointestinal distress, such as stomach upset, cramping diarrhea, ulcers, and even bleeding. These risks increase in elder patients because of the weakness of their immune system. The Newest NSAIDs called cox-2 inhibitors have been designed that have less toxicity to the stomach and bowels.[8]

Some studies have shown that the food supplements glucosamine and chondroitin can relieve symptoms of pain and stiffness for some people with osteoarthritis. Patients can get these supplements in pharmacies and health-food stores without a prescription, but those supplements are not administrated by the FDA, therefore some uncertainty remain on the products. The United States' National Institutes of Health (NIH) is researching the relationships about the usage of glucosamine and chondroitin in the treatment of osteoarthritis.[8]

The certain way to cure arthritis is currently available through surgery. The surgery replaces the arthritis joints of a patient with artificial joints[9]

Immune Diseases


  1. Basis of arthritis Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, January 28, 2010
  2. Arthritis by the U.S. Center for Disease Control
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Types of arthritis Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 28, 2009
  4. Symptoms of Arthritis Marc C. Levesque, MD, PhD, WebMD, LLC, October 24, 2010
  5. Causes of arthritis #1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, August 1, 2010
  6. Prevalence of Doctor-Diagnosed Arthritis Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 08, 2010
  7. Data and Statistics Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 20, 2010
  8. 8.0 8.1 Arthritis treatment William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR, 2010 eMedicineHealth
  9. Arthritis (cont.) William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR, 2010 eMedicineHealth

Additional Information

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