More than 5 million Pinoy adults have arthritis, rheumatism
- Sheila Crisostomo () - January 24, 2007 - 12:00am
More than five million adult Filipinos are suffering from arthritis and rheumatism, two serious conditions wrongly associated with old age, experts from the Philippine Rheumatology Association (PRA) said yesterday.

"One of every six adult Filipinos (have) these conditions. Contrary to common perception that the arthritis and rheumatism go with old age, they affect people of all ages," said PRA president Dr. Evelyn Osio-Salido in a health forum organized by the Philippine College of Physicians.

Arthritis is a disease of the joint that can be attributed to heredity, trauma, excess weight, abnormal antibodies that attack the joints, medicines or infection.

Rheumatism, on the other hand, is usually caused by minor trauma or by joint overload, repetitive movements and poor posture that strains the structures around the joint.

Salido said call center operators for instance, are prone to developing rheumatism because they usually sit for several hours and are exposed to low temperatures since they work in an air-conditioned environment.

In the Philippines, among the most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis, gout, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Wikipedia’s online dictionary states that in gout, uric acid is deposited in the articular cartilage of the joints and in certain tissues, such as the tendons, causing the affected parts to swell.

Osteoarthritis is a condition in which there is an inflammation of the joints because the cartilage that covers and acts as cushion between the joints are worn down. Former president Joseph Estrada, who suffered from this debilitating condition, underwent surgery to have his knees replaced.

SLE, on the other hand, is a chronic auto-immune disease that can be debilitating and sometimes fatal because the immune system attacks the body’s cells and tissue, resulting in inflammation and tissue change.

Wikipedia said RA is a systemic disease, "often affecting extra-articular tissues throughout the body including the skin, blood vessels, heart, lungs and muscles." It is traditionally considered a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack the joints.

PRA fellow Dr. Michael Tee warned that people should refrain from smoking because Swedish rheumatologists found that cigarettes could be a triggering factor for RA and SLE.

"Inflammatory arthritis in general, one of which is rheumatoid arthritis can shorten the life span by five years and cause poor quality of life," he added.

Dr. Ester Penserga, former president of PRA, said those who think they have arthritis or rheumatism or believe they are predisposed to these diseases should immediately see a doctor.

People who have severe arthritis or rheumatism complain of limited mobility because the parts of their body affected by these conditions become swollen or deformed.

She said it is important for people who have these conditions to be treated immediately and properly to protect their joints from further damage.

ARTHRITIS DR. ESTER PENSERGA DR. EVELYN OSIO-SALIDO DR. MICHAEL TEE IN THE PHILIPPINES JOINTS JOSEPH ESTRADA PHILIPPINE COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS PHILIPPINE RHEUMATOLOGY ASSOCIATION WIKIPEDIA
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