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The study of causes, effects and distribution of disease and health conditions within defined human populations is known as epidemiology (Rothman, 2002). Through epidemiology, policy decisions are made from the identified disease risk factors, and methodologies are developed for use in public health and clinical research. This paper will discuss a prevalent disease in recent years, arthritis, a painful stiffness and swelling of the joints. The paper will highlight how it is caused, the affected population and how to avoid and control it.
The term arthritis entails medical conditions in excess of 100. The most common among them is osteoarthritis, also known as OA (Becker, 2005). The population most susceptible to OA is that of over 55 years of age in industrialized countries. It is also the key cause of disability among the elderly. In OA, the cartilage covering bones to prevent them from directly rubbing against each other loses elasticity and wears out. The bones will then rub against each other resulting in severe pain (Becker, 2005). Symptoms include tenderness on the joints and loss of flexibility. There is also a grating sensation while using the joint and stiffness especially early in the morning. Bone spurs and hard lumps form around the joint. Joints most commonly affected include knees, hips, spine and hands. Individuals suffering from OA are affected differently. Some may not be able to grasp items, others will not be able to exercise while some may not move around like they used to. Occupational therapy and physical therapy assist in maintaining the range of motion and mobility of joints. The most common prescriptions are non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (Becker, 2005).
Becker, M. A. (2005). Arthritis and allied conditions (15th ed.). New York: Lippincot Williams & Wilkins.
Rothman, K. (2002). Epidemiology: An introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.