Acute pain: Pain that
comes on quickly, can be severe, but lasts a relatively short time.
As opposed to chronic pain.
Inflammation of a joint. When joints are inflamed they can develop
stiffness, warmth, swelling, redness and pain. There are over 100
types of arthritis. (see osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing
spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, gout.
Arthrosis: An arthrosis
is a joint, an area where two bones are attached for the purpose of
motion of body parts. An arthrosis (joint) is usually formed of fibrous
connective tissue and cartilage. Joints are grouped according to their
motion: a ball and socket joint; a hinge joint; a condyloid joint
(a joint that permits all forms of angular movement except axial rotation);
a pivot joint; gliding joint; and a saddle joint.
Joints can move in four and only four ways:
• Gliding -- one bony surface glides on another without angular
or rotatory movement;
• Angular -- occurs only between long bones, increasing or decreasing
the angle between the bones;
• Circumduction -- occurs in joints composed of the head of
a bone and an articular cavity, the long bone describing a series
of circles, the whole forming a cone;
• Rotation -- a bone moves about a central axis without moving
from this axis.
The word "arthrosis" comes from a Greek root, "arthros"
meaning a joint (as in arthritis, inflammation of a joint). The word
"joint" itself comes from a Latin root, "junctio"
meaning a joining (as in a junction).
Cholesterol: A fatty substance made by the liver from
fats and carbohydrates. Your body uses cholesterol to help form cell
membranes, hormones, and vitamin D. The liver makes all of the cholesterol
needed for your body. Additional cholesterol enters your bloodstream
through the foods that you eat. Cholesterol cannot be dissolved in
the blood and must be transported to and from cells by special carrier
proteins called lipoproteins. The two most important types of lipoproteins
are low-density lipoproteins (referred to as LDL, which forms "bad
cholesterol") and high-density lipoproteins (called HDL, which
forms "good cholesterol"). HDL: High-density lipoproteins.
A particle made up of a relatively high density of protein and a smaller
density of lipids. After a cell has broken down an LDL molecule, it
generates cholesterol and free fatty acids, and the excess amounts
are expelled into the bloodstream. From this point, HDL removes the
extra cholesterol found in the bloodstream and carries it back to
the liver, where the cholesterol is re-packaged by the body, dissolved
in the creation of bile salts, or HDL carries the cholesterol to the
endocrine glands in order to produce steroids. HDL carries about one-quarter
to one-third of the total cholesterol in the body. When combined with
cholesterol, it is referred to as HDL cholesterol or "good cholesterol."
Chronic pain: Pain
that persists or progresses over a long period of time. As opposed
to acute pain
Cytokines : are mediators
which promote inflammation in all tissues.
Degenerative Disc Disease & Sciatica At A Glance
• The discs of the spine serve as "cushions" between
each vertebral segment.
• The discs are designed somewhat like a jelly donut.
• Degeneration (deterioration) of the disc makes the disc more
susceptible to herniation (rupture) which can lead to localized or
• Sciatica can result from disc herniation when nerves of sensation
in the low back are irritated.
Diabetic neuropathy: A family of nerve disorders caused by diabetes.
Diabetic neuropathies cause numbness and sometimes pain and weakness
in the hands, arms, feet (known as Diabetic Foot), and legs. Neurologic
problems in diabetes may occur in every organ system, including the
digestive tract, heart, and genitalia. People with diabetes can develop
nerve problems at any time, but the longer a person has diabetes,
the greater is the risk.
About half of diabetics have some form of neuropathy, but not all
with neuropathy have symptoms. The highest rates of neuropathy are
among people who have had the disease for at least 25 years. Diabetic
neuropathy is more common in people who have had problems controlling
their blood glucose levels, in those with high levels of blood fat
and blood pressure, in overweight people, and in people over the age
of 40. Diabetic neuropathies are classified as peripheral, autonomic,
proximal, and focal. Peripheral neuropathy causes pain or loss of
feeling in the toes, feet, legs, hands, and arms. Autonomic neuropathy
causes changes in digestion, bowel and bladder function, sexual response,
and perspiration and can also affect the nerves that serve the heart
and control blood pressure. Proximal neuropathy causes pain in the
thighs, hips, or buttocks and leads to weakness in the legs. Focal
neuropathy results in the sudden weakness of one nerve, or a group
of nerves, causing muscle weakness or pain. Any nerve in the body
may be affected. The blood glucose levels should be brought within
the normal range to prevent further nerve damage. Although symptoms
may get worse when blood glucose is first brought under control, maintaining
lower blood glucose levels over times helps lessen neuropathic symptoms
and prevent further problems. Good foot care is mandatory. Analgesics,
low doses of antidepressants, and some anticonvulsant medications
may be prescribed for relief of pain, burning, or tingling. Some patients
may find that walking regularly, taking warm baths, or using elastic
stockings may help relieve leg pain.
Disc: Shortened terminology
for an intervertebral disc, a disk-shaped piece of specialized tissue
that separates the bones of the spinal column. The center of a disc,
called the nucleus, is soft, springy and receives the shock of standing,
walking, running, etc. The outer ring of the disc, called the annulus
(Latin for ring), provides structure and strength to the disc. The annulus
consists of a complex series of interwoven layers of fibrous tissue
that hold the nucleus in place. A disc can herniate. A herniated disc
is often referred to as a slipped disc. This term came from the action
of the nuclear tissue when it is forced from the center of the disc.
The nuclear tissue located in the center of the disc can be placed under
so much pressure that it can cause the annulus to rupture. When the
disc has herniated or ruptured, it may create pressure against one or
more of the spinal nerves which can cause pain, weakness or numbness.
The terms slipped disc, herniated disc, prolapsed disc, and ruptured
disc are synonymous.
Endorphin: One of the
body's own painkillers, an opioid (morphine-like) chemical produced
by the body that serves to suppress pain. Endorphins are manufactured
in the brain, spinal cord, and many other parts of the body. They
are released in response to neurotransmitters and bind to certain
neuron receptors (the same ones that bind opiate medicines). Endorphins
act as analgesics (diminishing the perception of pain) and as sedatives.
Chemically, endorphins are peptides (amino acid chains that are shorter
than proteins) and they are rapidly inactivated by enzymes called
Haemoglobin: The oxygen-carrying
pigment and predominant protein in the red blood cells. Hemoglobin
forms an unstable, reversible bond with oxygen. In its oxygenated
state it is called oxyhaemoglobin and is bright red. In the reduced
state it is called deoxyhaemoglobin and is purple-blue. Each hemoglobin
molecule is made up of four heme groups surrounding a globin group.
Heme contains iron and gives a red color to the molecule. Globin consists
of two linked pairs of polypeptide chains. The development of each
chain is controlled at a separate genetic locus. Changes in the amino
acid sequence of these chains results in abnormal haemoglobins. For
example, haemoglobin S is found in sickle-cell disease, a severe type
of anemia in which the red cells become sickle-shaped when oxygen
is in short supply.
When red blood cells die, the hemoglobin within them is released and
broken up: the iron in hemoglobin is salvaged, transported to the
bone marrow by a protein called transferrin and used again in the
production of new red blood cells; the remainder of the hemoglobin
becomes a chemical called bilirubin that is excreted into the bile
which is secreted into the intestine, where it gives the feces their
characteristic yellow-brown color.
Hormone: A chemical
substance produced in the body that controls and regulates the activity
of certain cells or organs.
Many hormones are secreted by specialized glands such as the thyroid
gland. Hormones are essential for every activity of daily living, including
the processes of digestion, metabolism, growth, reproduction, and mood
control. Many hormones, such as the neurotransmitters, are active in
more than one physical process. Examples of hormones include aldosterone,
antidiuretic hormone(ADH), cortisol, erythropoietin, estrogen, human
chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), parathormone, progesterone, and testosterone.
A hormone originally denoted a chemical made by a gland for export to
another part of the body. Now a hormone is more broadly any chemical,
irrespective of whether it is produced by a special gland or not, for
export or domestic use, that "controls and regulates the activity
of certain cells or organs.". The word "hormao" which
means "I set in motion" or "I stir up" was used
in ancient Greece to covey the "vital principle" of "getting
the juices flowing." The word "hormone" was resurrected
in 1902 (not 1906, as the Oxford English Dictionary states) by the English
physiologists Wm. M. Bayliss and Ernest H. Starling who that year reported
their discovery of a substance made by glands in the small intestine
that stimulated pancreatic secretion. They called the substance "secretin"
and dubbed it a "hormone", the first known hormone.
Inflammation: A basic
way in which the body reacts to infection, irritation or other injury,
the key feature being redness, warmth, swelling and pain. Inflammation
is now recognized as a type of nonspecific immune response.
More information: In technical terms, the inflammatory response directs
immune system components to the site of injury or infection and is manifest
by increased blood supply and vascular permeability which, in technical
terms, allows chemotactic peptides, neutrophils, and mononuclear cells
to leave the intravascular compartment. Microorganisms are engulfed
by phagocytic cells (e.g., neutrophils and macrophages) in an attempt
to contain the infection in a small-tissue space. The response includes
attraction of phagocytes in a chemotactic gradient of microbial products,
movement of the phagocyte to the inflammatory site and contact with
the organism, phagocytosis (ingestion) of the organism, development
of an oxidative burst directed toward the organism, fusion of the phagosome
and lysosome with degranulation of lysosomal contents, and death and
degradation of the organism. When quantitative or qualitative defects
in neutrophil function result in infection, the infection usually is
prolonged and recurrent and responds slowly to antimicrobial agents.
Staphylococci, gram-negative organisms, and fungi are the usual pathogens
responsible for these infections.
History: Since antiquity (and to every medical student),
the defining clinical features of inflammation have been known in Latin
as rubor (redness), calor (warmth), tumor (swelling) and dolor (pain).
These hallmarks of inflammation were first described by Celsus -- Aulus
(Aurelius) Cornelius, a Roman physician and medical writer, who lived
from about 30 B.C. to 45 A.D.
Ischemia: Inadequate blood supply (circulation) to a local area due
to blockage of the blood vessels to the area.
Lumbago : Disc degeneration
that affects the lumbar spine is referred to as lumbago. Lumbago causes
pain localized to the low back and is common in older persons. Degenerative
arthritis (osteoarthritis) of the facet joints is also a cause of
localized lumbar pain that can be detected with plain x-ray testing.
The pain from degenerative disc or joint disease of the spine is usually
treated conservatively with intermittent heat, rest, rehabilitative
exercises, and medications to relieve pain, muscle spasm, and inflammation.
The growth of new blood vessels.
Neural: Having to do
with nerve cells.
Neuropathy: Any and all
disease or malfunction of the nerves. Neuropathic pain: Chronic pain
resulting from injury to the nervous system. The injury can be to the
central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) or the peripheral nervous
system (nerves outside the brain and spinal cord). Neuropathic pain
can occur after trauma and many diseases such as multiple sclerosis
and stroke. It is common and affects more than 3 million people in the
US alone. This type of pain is notoriously difficult to treat.
Nitric oxide: A compound that is toxic but which,
paradoxically, plays a number of important roles in the body, including
• It acts as a vasodilator (blood vessel relaxant).
• It therefore controls blood flow to tissues.
• It regulates the binding and release of oxygen to hemoglobin.
• It thereby controls the supply of oxygen to mitochondria (cell
powerhouses that generate energy).
• It kills parasitic organisms, virus-infected cells, and tumor
cells (by inactivating respiratory chain enzymes in their mitochondria).
• It stimulates the production of new mitochondria.
The 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology was awarded to Robert
F. Furchgott, Ferid Murad, and Louis J. Ignarro for their discoveries
of the role of nitric oxide in cardiovascular physiology. Nitric Oxide
levels are increased following treatment with the PBK International System.
Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that is caused by the breakdown
and eventual loss of the cartilage of one or more joints. Cartilage
is a protein substance that serves as a "cushion" between
the bones of the joints. Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative
arthritis. Among the over 100 different types of arthritis conditions,
osteoarthritis is the most common, affecting over 20 million people
in the United States. Osteoarthritis occurs more frequently as we
age. Before age 45, osteoarthritis occurs more frequently in males.
After age 55 years, it occurs more frequently in females. In the United
States, all races appear equally affected. A higher incidence of osteoarthritis
exists in the Japanese population, while South African blacks, East
Indians and Southern Chinese have lower rates. Osteoarthritis commonly
affects the hands, feet, spine, and large weight-bearing joints, such
as the hips and knees. Most cases of osteoarthritis have no known
cause and are referred to as primary osteoarthritis. When the cause
of the osteoarthritis is known, the condition is referred to as secondary
What causes osteoarthritis?
Primary osteoarthritis is mostly related to aging. With aging, the
water content of the cartilage increases and the protein makeup of
cartilage degenerates. Repetitive use of the joints over the years
irritates and inflames the cartilage, causing joint pain and swelling.
Eventually, cartilage begins to degenerate by flaking or forming tiny
crevasses. In advanced cases, there is a total loss of the cartilage
cushion between the bones of the joints. Loss of cartilage cushion
causes friction between the bones, leading to pain and limitation
of joint mobility. Inflammation of the cartilage can also stimulate
new bone outgrowths (spurs) to form around the joints. Osteoarthritis
occasionally can be found in multiple members of the same family,
implying a heredity (genetic) basis for this condition.
Secondary osteoarthritis is caused by another disease or condition.
Conditions that can lead to secondary osteoarthritis include obesity,
repeated trauma or surgery to the joint structures, abnormal joints
at birth (congenital abnormalities), gout, diabetes, and other hormone
disorders. Obesity causes osteoarthritis by increasing the mechanical
stress on the cartilage. The early development of osteoarthritis of
the knees among weight lifters is believed to be in part due to their
high body weight. Repeated trauma to joint tissues (ligaments, bones
and cartilage) is believed to lead to early osteoarthritis of the
knees in soccer players. Interestingly, recent studies have not found
an increased risk of osteoarthritis in long-distance runners.
Crystal deposits in the cartilage can cause cartilage degeneration,
and osteoarthritis. Uric acid crystals cause arthritis in gout, while
calcium pyrophosphate crystals cause arthritis in pseudogout.
Some people are born with abnormally formed joints (congenital abnormalities)
that are vulnerable to mechanical wear, causing early degeneration
and loss of joint cartilage. Osteoarthritis of the hip joints is commonly
related to design abnormalities of these joints that had been present
Hormone disturbances, such as diabetes and growth hormone disorders,
are also associated with early cartilage wear and secondary osteoarthritis.
What are symptoms of osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints. Unlike many other
forms of arthritis that are systemic illnesses, such as rheumatoid
arthritis and systemic lupus, osteoarthritis does not affect other
organs of the body. The most common symptom of osteoarthritis is pain
in the affected joint(s) after repetitive use. Joint pain is usually
worse later in the day. There can be swelling, warmth, and creaking
of the affected joints. Pain and stiffness of the joints can also
occur after long periods of inactivity, for example, sitting in a
theater. In severe osteoarthritis, complete loss of cartilage cushion
causes friction between bones, causing pain at rest or pain with limited
motion. Symptoms of osteoarthritis vary greatly from patient to patient.
Some patients can be debilitated by their symptoms. On the other hand,
others may have remarkably few symptoms in spite of dramatic degeneration
of the joints apparent on x-rays. Symptoms also can be intermittent.
It is not unusual for patients with osteoarthritis of the hands and
knees to have years of pain-free intervals between symptoms.
Osteoblasts : Cells which
create new bone tissue
Osteoclasts : Destroy
Pathology: The study of
disease. Pathology has been defined as "that branch of medicine
which treats of the essential nature of disease." The word "pathology"
comes from the Greek words "pathos" meaning "disease"
and "logos" meaning "a treatise" = a treatise of
disease. The word "pathology" is sometimes misused to mean
disease as, for example, "he didn't find any pathology" (meaning
he found no evidence of disease). A medical doctor that specializes
in pathology is called a pathologist. Pathologists are experts at interpreting
microscopic views of body tissues.
A problem with the functioning of the nerves outside the spinal cord.
Symptoms may include numbness, weakness, burning pain (especially
at night), and loss of reflexes. The term peripheral neuropathy describes
a problem with the functioning of the nerves outside of the spinal
cord. The symptoms of a neuropathy may include numbness, weakness,
burning pain (especially at night), and loss of reflexes. The pain
may be severe and disabling.
The treatment for peripheral neuropathy depends on its cause. Many
peripheral neuropathies can be treated by addressing the underlying
cause (such as vitamin deficiency). Others can be prevented from occurring.
For example, controlling diabetes may prevent diabetic neuropathy.
Still others can be corrected by surgery (for example carpal tunnel
syndrome). Neuropathies that are associated with immune diseases can
improve with treatment directed at the abnormal features of the immune
Peripheral Neuropathy At A Glance
• There are many causes of peripheral neuropathy, including
many drugs, diabetes, kidney failure, and vitamin deficiency.
• Many causes of peripheral neuropathy can be successfully treated
• The treatment for a peripheral neuropathy depends on its cause.
Peripheral vascular disease: A
disease of blood vessels outside the heart. Peripheral vascular disease
(PVD) affects the peripheral circulation, as opposed to the cardiac
circulation. PVD comprises diseases of both peripheral arteries and
peripheral veins. PVD is sometimes incorrectly used as a synonym for
peripheral artery disease (PAD). Intermittent claudication due to inadequate
blood flow to the leg is an example of peripheral artery disease (PAD)
while varicose veins and spider veins are examples of peripheral vein
Protein: A large molecule
composed of one or more chains of amino acids in a specific order determined
by the base sequence of nucleotides in the DNA coding for the protein.
Proteins are required for the structure, function, and regulation of
the body's cells, tissues, and organs. Each protein has unique functions.
Proteins are essential components of muscles, skin, bones and the body
as a whole. Examples of proteins include whole classes of important
molecules, among them enzymes, hormones, and antibodies. Protein is
one of the three types of nutrients used as energy sources by the body,
the other two being carbohydrate and fat. Proteins and carbohydrates
each provide 4 calories of energy per gram, while fats produce 9 calories
per gram. The word "protein" was introduced into science by
the great Swedish physician and chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius (1779-1848)
who also determined the atomic and molecular weights of thousands of
substances, discovered several elements including selenium, first isolated
silicon and titanium, and created the present system of writing chemical
symbols and reactions.
Prostate Cancer: a malignant
(cancerous) tumor (growth) that consists of cells from the prostate
gland. The tumor usually grows slowly and remains confined to the
gland for many years. During this time, the tumor produces little
or no symptoms or outward signs (abnormalities on physical examination).
As the cancer advances, however, it can spread beyond the prostate
into the surrounding tissues (local spread). Moreover, the cancer
also can metastasize (spread even farther) throughout other areas
of the body, such as the bones, lungs, and liver. Symptoms and signs,
therefore, are more often associated with advanced prostate cancer.
Physiology: The study
of how living organisms function including such processes as nutrition,
movement, and reproduction.
The word "function" is important to the definition of physiology
because physiology traditionally had to do with the function of living
things while anatomy had to do with morphology, the shape and form,
Human physiology today is a science of wide scope:
• Some physiological studies are concerned with processes that
go on within cells such as phagocytosis, the process by which cells
engulf and usually digest particles, bacteria and other microorganisms,
and even harmful cells. The physiology of cells is called cell physiology.
• Other physiological studies deal with how tissues and organs
work, how they are controlled and interact with other tissues and
organs and how they are integrated within the individual.
• Yet other physiological studies deal with how we respond to
our environment. For example, to extremes of temperature (in arctic
conditions versus the desert), to changes in pressure (deep under
the ocean versus weightless in space), etc.
Human physiological processes are the functions of living persons
and their parts, and the physical and chemical factors and processes
Retinitis pigmentosa and congenital deafness:
(Also called Usher syndrome.) A genetic disorder characterized by hearing
impairment and an eye disorder called retinitis pigmentosa in which
vision worsens over time. Some people with Usher syndrome also have
balance problems. It is the most common disease that compromises both
hearing and vision. More than half of all deaf-blind people have Usher
syndrome. The syndrome is passed along in families by autosomal recessive
inheritance, which requires two copies of the Usher gene for the disorder
to be manifest. Each parent of a boy or girl with Usher syndrome has
one standard and one mutated Usher gene. A child with the syndrome has
received two mutated Usher genes, one from each parent.
Rheumatoid Arthritis :
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic
inflammation of the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause inflammation
of the tissue around the joints, as well as other organs in the body.
Autoimmune diseases are illnesses which occur when the body tissues
are mistakenly attacked by its own immune system. The immune system
is a complex organization of cells and antibodies designed normally
to "seek and destroy" invaders of the body, particularly infections.
Patients with these diseases have antibodies in their blood which target
their own body tissues, where they can be associated with inflammation.
Because it can affect multiple other organs of the body, rheumatoid
arthritis is referred to as a systemic illness and is sometimes called
rheumatoid disease. While rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic illness,
meaning it can last for years, patients may experience long periods
without symptoms. Typically, however, rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive
illness that has the potential to cause joint destruction and functional
disability. A joint is where two bones meet to allow movement of body
parts. Arthritis means joint inflammation. The joint inflammation of
rheumatoid arthritis causes swelling, pain, stiffness, and redness in
the joints. The inflammation of rheumatoid disease can also occur in
tissues around the joints, such as the tendons, ligaments, and muscles.
In some patients with rheumatoid arthritis, chronic inflammation leads
to the destruction of the cartilage, bone and ligaments causing deformity
of the joints. Damage to the joints can occur early in the disease and
be progressive. Moreover, studies have shown that the progressive damage
to the joints does not necessarily correlate with the degree of pain,
stiffness, or swelling present in the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is
a common rheumatic disease, affecting more than two million people in
the United States. The disease is three times more common in women as
in men. It afflicts people of all races equally. The disease can begin
at any age, but most often starts after age forty and before sixty.
In some families, multiple members can be affected, suggesting a genetic
basis for the disorder.
What causes rheumatoid arthritis?
The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown. Even though infectious
agents such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi have long been suspected,
none has been proven as the cause. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis
is a very active area of worldwide research. Some scientists believe
that the tendency to develop rheumatoid arthritis may be genetically
inherited. It is suspected that certain infections or factors in the
environment might trigger the immune system to attack the body's own
tissues, resulting in inflammation in various organs of the body such
as the lungs or eyes. Regardless of the exact trigger, the result is
an immune system that is geared up to promote inflammation in the joints
and occasionally other tissues of the body. Immune cells, called lymphocytes,
are activated and chemical messengers (cytokines, such as tumor necrosis
factor/TNF and interleukin-1/IL-1) are expressed in the inflamed areas.
Environmental factors also seem to play some role in the cause of rheumatoid
arthritis. Recently, scientists have reported that smoking tobacco increases
the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis come and go, depending
on the degree of tissue inflammation. When body tissues are inflamed,
the disease is active. When tissue inflammation subsides, the disease
is inactive (in remission). Remissions can occur spontaneously or with
treatment, and can last weeks, months, or years. During remissions,
symptoms of the disease disappear, and patients generally feel well.
When the disease becomes active again (relapse), symptoms return. The
return of disease activity and symptoms is called a flare. The course
of rheumatoid arthritis varies from patient to patient, and periods
of flares and remissions are typical. When the disease is active, symptoms
can include fatigue, lack of appetite, low grade fever, muscle and joint
aches, and stiffness. Muscle and joint stiffness are usually most notable
in the morning and after periods of inactivity. Arthritis is common
during disease flares. During flares, joints frequently become red,
swollen, painful, and tender. This occurs because the lining tissue
of the joint (synovium) becomes inflamed, resulting in the production
of excessive joint fluid (synovial fluid). The synovium also thickens
with inflammation (synovitis). In rheumatoid arthritis, multiple joints
are usually inflamed in a symmetrical pattern (both sides of the body
affected). The small joints of both the hands and wrists are often involved.
Simple tasks of daily living, such as turning door knobs and opening
jars can become difficult during flares. The small joints of the feet
are also commonly involved. Occasionally, only one joint is inflamed.
When only one joint is involved, the arthritis can mimic the joint inflammation
caused by other forms of arthritis such as gout or joint infection.
Chronic inflammation can cause damage to body tissues, cartilage and
bone. This leads to a loss of cartilage and erosion and weakness of
the bones as well as the muscles, resulting in joint deformity, destruction,
and loss of function. Rarely, rheumatoid arthritis can even affect the
joint that is responsible for the tightening our vocal cords to change
the tone of our voice, the cricoarytenoid joint. When this joint is
inflamed, it can cause hoarseness of voice.
Sciatica : Pain resulting
from irritation of the sciatic nerve, typically felt from the low
back to behind the thigh and radiating down below the knee. While
sciatica can result from a herniated disc directly pressing on the
nerve, any cause of irritation or inflammation of this nerve can reproduce
the painful symptoms of sciatica. Diagnosis is by observation of symptoms,
physical and nerve testing, and sometimes by X-ray or MRI if a herniated
disk is suspected. Treatment options include avoiding movements that
further irritate the condition, medication, physical therapy, and
Also called tic douloureux. Inflammation of the trigeminal nerve (the
fifth cranial nerve) that most commonly causes paroxysms of very intense
lightning pain in the areas of the face the nerve supplies -- the
lips, eye, nose, scalp, forehead, gums, cheek, and chin -- on the
involved side of the face. A less common "atypical" form
of the disease causes a more constant, dull, burning, or aching pain.
Onset is generally after age 50, but even children can be afflicted.
Triggers for attacks can include touching the face, brushing the teeth,
putting on makeup, and a soft breeze. Medications that may be effective
include anticonvulsants (such as Tegretol or Neurontin) and antidepressants.
Neurosurgery may be necessary to relieve pressure on the nerve or
to reduce nerve sensitivity. See also: Trigeminal nerve.
Vascular disease: A
disease of blood vessels outside the heart. Peripheral vascular disease
(PVD) affects the peripheral circulation, as opposed to the cardiac
circulation. PVD comprises diseases of both peripheral arteries and
peripheral veins. PVD is sometimes incorrectly used as a synonym for
peripheral artery disease (PAD). Intermittent claudication due to
inadequate blood flow to the leg is an example of peripheral artery
disease (PAD) while varicose veins and spider veins are examples of
peripheral vein disease.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF): Vascular
endothelial growth factor, a substance made by cells that stimulates
the formation of new blood vessels, a process called angiogenesis. VEGF
also acts as a mitogen for vascular endothelial (vessel lining) cells,
stimulating these cells to divide and multiply. VEGF is a polypeptide
structurally related to platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF). The gene
for VEGF is on chromosome 6p12.