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Arthritis: History and Treatments

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Arthritis was recognized in human in 4500 BC and it has become a major issue ever since then. Treatments may include weight loss, medications, non-pharmacologic therapies, surgery – joint replacement and joint surgery.


Arthritis is a very common disease that is not fully understood. In reality, it is not a single disease, rather, an inflammation of one or more joints and the major symptoms are joint pain and stiffness, which usually get worst as the patient gets older. The main types of the disease are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid.


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Contents of this article

  • What is arthritis?
  • History
  • Types
  • Causes
  • Signs and symptoms
  • Diagnosis


What is arthritis?

The term “arthritis” means joint disorder with inflammation. The word is used in describing 100 to 200 rheumatic diseases that affect joints, the tissues that surround the joint, and as well as other connective tissues.



The disease became notable in human as far back as 4500 BC. It is reported that the disease was usually referred to as the most common diseases among prehistoric people. It was later discovered in skeletal remains of Native Americans found in Tennessee and in some parts of Olathe, Kansas. There has been evidence of the disease throughout history, from Ötzi, a mummy (circa 3000 BC), the border of modern Italy and Austria, to the Egyptian mummies circa 2590 BC. William Musgrave in 1715 published his work on arthritis and its effects in his second edition of his very important medical work, named “De arthritide symptomatic”.



Over 100 to about 200 types have been identified and grouped into seven main groups, the groups are as follows

  1. Inflammatory arthritis
  2. Degenerative or mechanical arthritis
  3. Soft tissue musculoskeletal pain
  4. Back pain
  5. Connective tissue disease
  6. Infectious arthritis
  7. Metabolic arthritis.



Causes of all types of the disease are yet unknown, potential causes have only been identified which vary in accordance with the type. Hence, potential causes are as follows:

  • Inheritance – such as in osteoarthritis
  • Injury – leading to degenerative arthriti s
  • Abnormal metabolism – leading to gout and pseudogout
  • Immune system dysfunction – such as in RA and SLE
  • Infections – such as in the arthriti s of Lyme disease.


Signs and Symptoms

Four major warning signs of arthritis have been identified and they are:

  • Pains that might be regular or irregular
  • Warm swellings
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty moving a joint



Arthritis is generally diagnosed with a current and past detailed medical history of signs and symptoms. Physical examination is done, followed by a radiographic and laboratory study. Tests carried out are usually dependent on the type suspected.



Pain control is the first thing to do during treatment followed by minimizing joint damage, then improving and maintaining the quality of life. According to the American College of Rheumatology, treating the disease may include weight loss, medications, non-pharmacologic therapies, surgery – joint replacement and joint surgery, physical or occupational therapy, splints or joint assistive aids, patient education and support.

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