The Economic Consequences of Arthritis                       

Arthritis affects the musculoskeletal system, specifically the joints. It is the main cause of disability among people over fifty-five years of age in the industrialized countries (MNT, 2013).

Causes of Arthritis

  •     Lack of synovial fluid in the joints
  •     Wearing off of the cartilage
  •     Autoimmunity
  •     Infection

Types of Arthritis

There are over 100 types of arthritis and the impact are the same. I will limit to a few for this write up.

Osteoarthritis- This is caused by loss of elasticity in the cartilage, causing joints to become stiff and damage easily. When this happens, the tendons and the ligaments stretch out leading to pain.

Rheumatoid arthritis- This is an inflammatory form of arthritis which mainly affects the synovial fluid resulting in swelling and pain. This is predominantly seen in women between the age of 50 and 60 than in men. This type of arthritis predisposes the individual to blood clots within 10 years of diagnosis.

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) – This affects individual’s age 16 or less. It has different classifications; the most common is the systemic JRA.

Infectious Arthritis – is caused by an infection in the synovial fluid and tissues of a joint, this is often caused by bacteria. This affects individuals with pre-existing arthritis (MNT, 2013).

Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis

This depends on the type of arthritis, but these are the general symptoms:

  • Joint pain during, after or a period of inactivity in (hip, hands, knees, and spine).
  • Stiffness on the joints usually in the morning
  • Hard lumps or bone spurs around the joint
  • Fever in inflammatory arthritis
  • Swollen joint, inflamed, or rheumatoid nodules
  • Weight loss and fatigue

Economic Consequences of Arthritis

Arthritis affects the quality of life and the working ability of individuals with the condition. It also has both social and economic consequences of the individual. Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States, affecting more than 27 million Americans. The disease primarily affects joints limiting the ability of the individual to perform activities of daily living (CDC, 2010). Osteoarthritis and other forms of arthritis caused $128 billion in 2003 in the United States, of which $81 billion was spent on hospitalizations, and $47 billion in lost earnings.  Annually about 992, 100 are admitted into the hospital, while 44 million are treated as out-patients. Research revealed that every 1 in 2 individuals will suffer from arthritis in their lifetimes (CDC, 2010). Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the major causes of early retirement in people age 50 and over.

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