Arthritis is currently one of the most common diseases affecting people in the UK. According to the latest statistics over 9 milllion people in the UK have some form of arthritis; that means for every five people you see wandering around the streets, one is likely is to suffer from the condition.
There are over 100 different forms of arthritis
The most common versions of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, however as the etymology of the word from ancient Greece simply means Arthro – joint + Itis – inflammation, a number of other conditions can be classified as arthritis. Other diseases and conditions likely to be classified as arthritic include illnesses such as gout, Lyme disease, hepatitis and ankylosing spondylitis. The arthritic aspects of these conditions are often considered to be either ‘primary’ or ‘secondary’.
The cause of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is still unknown
Arthritic conditions have been around since the dawn of man, yet despite all the medical science and studies the cause of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is still unknown. The common conception is that osteoarthritis is caused by mechanical stress on the joints, which over a lifetime causes the collagen fibres within the joint cartilage to decay. However, the process does not appear to be caused by aging and studies into exercise suggest that there is no correlation between mechanical stress and osteoarthritis. Similarly, rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease, but scientists have been unable to find the reason or cause for the body’s sudden decision to begin attacking itself.
This is no correlation between racking your knuckles and developing arthritis
Old-wives tales and urban myths often have a grain of truth to them somewhere, but a number of studies over the past few years have failed to find any link between cracking your knuckles and developing arthritis. A 1975 study conducted by RL and SE Swezey analysed nursing home residents and another paper in 1990 examined 300 outpatients, both studies concluded that there was no correlation between cracking knuckles and developing signs of osteoarthritis. Of course this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a correlation just that we haven’t managed to find one yet.
72% of those affected by arthritis meet the UK legal definition of disabled
According to the latest statistics nearly three-quarters of the 9 million people diagnosed with arthritis can be legally classed as disabled under the UK government’s current criteria. Patients with painful arthritis are often unable to walk or move with ease, this can make living at home or going out to shops an arduous task and often requires in home help. Anyone suffering from such a serious form of arthritis is currently entitled to DLA (Disability Living Allowance) if the meet the criteria and fill out all the necessary forms. The UK benefits department is currently undergoing reform and anyone seeking to claim should speak to the DWP or the Citizens Advice Bureau for more details.