Collagen Vascular Disease

What Is Collagen Vascular Disease?

Collagen vascular disease is a group of disorders characterized by abnormal deposition or loss of collagen fibers in various tissues. These include: Arthritis (arthritis) of joints; Rheumatoid arthritis (RA); Sjogren’s syndrome; Polymyositis; Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIAA); Myasthenia Gravis; and others.

The most common type of collagen vascular disease is Type I collagen vascular disease (CVA). CVA occurs when there are abnormalities in the production or degradation of myofibrils, which are long chains of amino acids found in connective tissue such as tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones.

Myofibrils play a key role in maintaining joint stability and flexibility. They provide strength to bone and muscle through cross linking with other proteins. Without sufficient amounts of myofibrils, joints become rigid and stiff.

Type II collagen vascular disease (CVD) occurs when there are abnormalities in the synthesis or breakdown of collagen fibers. CVD results from defects in the production or degradation of either types I or II collagen fibers.

The most common form of CVD is known as juvenile idiopathic arthralgia (JIA), which affects children between 2 and 10 years old. The symptoms of JIA are similar to those of RA in adults. They include: morning stiffness, fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, and weight loss. These symptoms are similar to those of other collagen vascular diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome, scleroderma, or lupus erythematosus.

What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a general term to refer to disorders that cause pain and inflammation of the joints. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, most of which are related to wear-and-tear. The most common types of arthritis include:

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) – This type of arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the lining of the joints in the hands and feet causing inflammation. RA is a type of chronic inflammatory disease in which the body’s immune system attacks joint tissue, leading to pain, swelling, and limited range of motion.

In RA, the inflammation typically affects the small joints in the hands and feet, but it can also affect the spine. Other organs, such as the eyes and lungs, can also be affected in severe cases.

Osteoarthritis (OA) – This most common type of arthritis causes the cartilage that cushions joints to break down and wear out. As a result, bones rub against each other causing pain and swelling.

It usually affects people as they get older. As people get older, the cartilage around their joints naturally starts to break down. Other factors that can contribute to the breakdown of cartilage include: obesity, previous joint injury, or bone deformities.

Gout – This type of arthritis is caused by an accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints. These crystals cause severe pain and can damage the joints.

It most commonly affects the first joints of the feet. It usually starts at night, causing sudden severe pain, swelling, and redness in these joints.

Fibromyalgia – This type of arthritis is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. Some people with this condition may also experience fatigue and problems sleeping.

Muscles throughout the body, not just the muscles closest to the joints, are painful to the touch.

Ankylosing Spondylitis – This type of arthritis causes the spine to become fixed in a bent position and can also affect other joints in the body. It often begins between the ages of 15 and 35, and is two to three times more common in men than women.

Psoriatic Arthritis – This type of arthritis affects both children and adults and is a condition that occurs when skin symptoms of psoriasis are present. It causes a stiff or achy feeling in and around the joints of the fingers and toes.

Other symptoms of psoriasis such as red patches on the skin, raised bumps, or nail changes can also be present.

Lupus – This autoimmune disease can affect many different parts of the body, including the skin, kidneys, heart, brain, lungs, blood, and more. Arthritis is a common feature of lupus.

When to See a Doctor

It can often be helpful to visit a doctor when attempting to pinpoint an illness. They will perform a physical examination and ask about your medical history in more detail.

They will use this information and their examination to try to diagnose what is causing your condition.

If they believe you may have rheumatoid arthritis, they may refer you to a rheumatologist. This is a type of specialist that can help determine and prescribe the best treatment for you.

Treatments

There are a variety of treatments available for arthritis patients, including medication, exercise, and surgery. Arthritis medications can be grouped into three main categories: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), analgesics, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) – These drugs relieve pain and reduce swelling. They work by blocking the production of prostaglandins, chemicals that cause pain and inflammation.

Some common types of NSAIDS are Ibuprofen (e.g. Advil or Motrin) Naproxen (e.g. Aleve, Naprosyn), and Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol).

Analgesics – These drugs reduce the sensation of pain but do not affect inflammation. They are typically only effective in the short-term.

Some common types of analgesics are Codeine, Morphine, and Fentanyl.

Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDS) – These drugs can relieve pain, slow disease activity, and prevent joint damage. They may be prescribed if symptoms are active or when the disease begins to progress.

For many patients, a combination of medications is used to fight the disease.

Exercise – There are several types of exercise that can help arthritis patients. Stretching exercises can improve flexibility and prevent muscle shortening.

Aerobic exercise has been proven to strengthen the heart and lungs, improve endurance, and reduce pain and stiffness. Strengthening exercises can help build muscle and improve joint stability.

Surgery – In some cases, surgery may be required to repair or replace damaged joints. The types of surgery that are available and most appropriate for an individual patient depend on the location and severity of the joint damage.

Prevention

There is no proven way to prevent or slow the onset of arthritis, and there is a wide range of treatments available to manage symptoms. For patients that find themselves in frequent bouts of pain despite treatment, there are options such as medication reminders and assisted living facilities that can make living with arthritis more manageable.

The Arthritis Foundation states that maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, not smoking, and drinking in moderation can help reduce your risk of developing arthritis.

There are some other factors that are known to increase the risk of developing arthritis, such as family history, age, previous injury, obesity, and gender. Arthritis affects significantly more women than men.

Some factors are impossible to control, such as age and family history. Others, such as lifestyle choices and previous injury, are partly within your control. If you think you are at higher risk of developing arthritis or already have symptoms, speak to your doctor about steps you can take to proactively manage your condition and prevent permanent damage.

Even if you do everything right however, there is still a chance you may develop some form of arthritis. If you already have symptoms or believe you are at high risk of developing the condition, speak to your doctor about steps you can take to proactively manage your condition and prevent permanent damage.

Arthritis Symptoms

Arthritis is a common term used to describe more than 100 different diseases that affect your joints. It can cause severe pain, swelling, and loss of movement in your joints.

There are several types of arthritis including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, septic arthritis, gout, and lupus.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and causes pain and joint damage. It can develop at any age but is most commonly diagnosed in older adults.

Onset is often slow and progress over many years.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that attacks your joints and causes pain and swelling. It most commonly develops in women between the ages of 20 and 40 and can severely affect the joints in your hands, wrists, feet, knees, and spine.

Septic Arthritis is a rare complication that can occur when you have a bacterial infection in your joint. Bacteria can enter your joint through trauma or an injection (like with drugs or steroids) and cause severe pain and swelling.

Gout is caused by an excess of uric acid in your blood. When your uric acid levels are too high, it can crystallize in your body and cause pain in and around your joints.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that often affects your skin, brain, joints, kidneys, heart, and lungs. It causes swelling in your body and can lead to extreme tiredness, joint pain, fever, chest pain, and other symptoms.

The most common symptoms of Arthritis are swelling, pain, redness or warmth around a joint.

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