Home Glossary
Below are some medical expressions commonly used when describing the applications of the PBK-2C system.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A
Acute pain: Pain that comes on quickly, can be severe, but lasts a relatively short time. As opposed to chronic pain.

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Arthritis : 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.

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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).

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C
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."

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Chronic pain: Pain that persists or progresses over a long period of time. As opposed to acute pain

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Cytokines : are mediators which promote inflammation in all tissues.

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D
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 radiating pain.
• 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.

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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.

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E
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 peptidases.

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H
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.

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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.

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I
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.

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L
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.

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N
Neoangiogenesis : The growth of new blood vessels.

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Neural: Having to do with nerve cells.

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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.

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Nitric oxide:
A compound that is toxic but which, paradoxically, plays a number of important roles in the body, including the following:

• 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.

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O
Osteoarthritis :
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 osteoarthritis.

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 since birth.
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.

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Osteoblasts : Cells which create new bone tissue

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Osteoclasts : Destroy bone tissue

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Oxyhaemoglobin: See Haemoglobin

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P
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.

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Peripheral neuropathy: 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 system.
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 or prevented.
• The treatment for a peripheral neuropathy depends on its cause.

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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 disease.

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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.

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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.

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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, of things.
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 involved.

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R
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.

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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.

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S
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 sometimes surgery.

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T
Trigeminal neuralgia: 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.

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V
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.

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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.

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