June 24, 2009 > Does Your Body Ache?
Does Your Body Ache?
Washington Hospital Seminar Focuses on Arthritis
Does your back ever hurt? How about your joints, do they ache? Arthritis is more common than you think. With nearly 46 million adults in this country suffering from arthritis, chances are you or someone you know has it.
"Arthritis is so prevalent," said Dr. Barry Shibuya, who specializes in rheumatology at Washington Hospital. "One in five Californians has the disease, and it is only projected to get worse as the population ages."
Shibuya will present a seminar titled "Arthritis: Do I Have One of the 100 Types" on Monday, June 29, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., at the Conrad E. Anderson, MD Auditorium at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, in Fremont. To register, call (800) 963-7070.
"So many people are affected by arthritis, I encourage everyone to attend this seminar," Shibuya said.
While arthritis is often referred to as a single disease, it is actually a term used for more than 100 medical conditions that affect the joints. Shibuya will provide an overview of arthritis and some of the more common forms.
"I want people to understand that arthritis is more than just the aches and pains people associate with getting older," he said. "Arthritis can be broken down into two major types: inflammatory and non-inflammatory. It's also possible to have more than one type of arthritis. You can have both inflammatory and non-inflammatory."
While your chances of getting arthritis increase dramatically as you age, anyone can get the disease, according to Shibuya. In fact juvenile arthritis is a form that affects children specifically.
'Wear and Tear' Most Common
The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, a non-inflammatory type. "This is the 'wear and tear' kind of arthritis," he said. "It's caused when the cartilage wears thin."
Cartilage cushions the bones where they meet at joints like the elbow or knees. With less cartilage, the bones begin to rub against each other, causing pain, stiffness and a loss of movement.
Inflammatory arthritis includes autoimmune types like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, crystal-induced arthritis like gout, and infection-related arthritis. "With all of these, the joints become red, warm, tender and swollen," he said.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis. The chronic inflammation destroys cartilage, bone and ligaments, leading to joint damage and possibly deformity.
While the exact cause is unknown, according to Shibuya, researchers are gaining a better understanding of how the immune system and certain genetic factors affect the inflammatory process. "The over-activity of the immune system perpetuates the inflammation," he said.
An early diagnosis is important with rheumatoid arthritis to reduce damage to the joints, so if you have persistent joint pain, swelling, stiffness and fatigue, you should see a doctor, Shibuya said.
All types of arthritis can be painful and debilitating. In fact, arthritis tops the list of the most common causes of disability, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Medications Reduce Pain
While there is no cure, Shibuya said, there are ways to manage the disease and live a better quality life. He will talk about medications that are available to help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
"There are a lot of useful treatments for reducing the pain and living a better quality life," Shibuya said. "The goal is to manage the disease so you can get back to the activities you want to participate in, whether that's work, family, hobbies, or whatever."
He said exercising, keeping weight under control and reducing stress are all part of managing the disease.
To learn more about arthritis, register for the seminar by calling (800) 963-7070 and visit www.arthritis.org.
For more information about Washington Hospital and its programs and services, visit www.whhs.com.