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ARTHRITIS

ARTHRITIS

“Arthritis” is an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. There are more than a 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. People of all ages, sexes and races can and do have arthritis. More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis. It is most common among women and occurs more frequently as people get older.

Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Symptoms may come and go and can be of mild, moderate or severe in nature. They may stay about the same for years, but may progress or get worse over time. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs. Arthritis can also cause permanent joint changes. These changes may be visible, but often the damage can only be seen on X-ray. Some types of arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin as well as the joints..

Different types of arthritis

Degenerative Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. When the cartilage – the slick, cushioning surface on the ends of bones – wears away, bone rubs against bone, causing pain, swelling and stiffness. Over time, joints can lose strength and pain may become chronic. Risk factors include excess weight, family history, age and previous injury (an anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, tear, for example).

How to manage mild or moderate joint symptoms of osteoarthritis?

  • 1: Balancing activity with ample amount of rest.
  • 2: Using hot and cold therapies.
  • 3: Regular physical activity.
  • 4: Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • 5: Strengthening the muscles around the joint for added support.
  • 6: Using assistive devices.
  • 7: Taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medicines.
  • 8: Avoiding vigorous and excessive repetitive movements
  • 9: Avoiding injury

Inflammatory Arthritis

When a healthy immune system go awry, they mistakenly attack the joints with uncontrolled inflammation, potentially causing joint erosion and may damage internal organs, eyes and other parts of the body. Researchers believe that a combination of genetics and environmental factors can trigger autoimmunity.

With autoimmune and inflammatory types of arthritis, it is critical to have early diagnosis and aggressive treatment. The disease activity when slowed can help minimize or even prevent permanent damage of the joint. Temporary relief may be achieved through the use of one or more medications known as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). The goal of treatment is to reduce pain, improve function, and prevent further joint damage

Infectious Arthritis

A bacterium, virus or fungus can enter the joint and trigger inflammation. Organisms like salmonella and shigella (food poisoning or contamination), chlamydia and gonorrhea (sexually transmitted diseases) and hepatitis C (a blood-to-blood infection, often through shared needles or transfusions). In many cases, timely treatment with antibiotics may clear the joint infection, but sometimes the arthritis becomes chronic.

A bacterium, virus or fungus can enter the joint and trigger inflammation. Organisms like salmonella and shigella (food poisoning or contamination), chlamydia and gonorrhea (sexually transmitted diseases) and hepatitis C (a blood-to-blood infection, often through shared needles or transfusions). In many cases, timely treatment with antibiotics may clear the joint infection, but sometimes the arthritis becomes chronic.

Metabolic Arthritis

As the body breaks down purines, a substance found in the human cells and in many food items, uric acid is formed. Some people have high levels of uric acid because they naturally produce more than the required or the body can’t get rid of the uric acid fast. In some people the uric acid builds up and forms needle-like crystals in the joint. As a result, sudden spikes of extreme joint pain, or a gout attack occurs to these people. Gout can come and go at regular intervals or, if uric acid levels aren’t reduced, it can become chronic, causing chronic pain and disability.

Whom to seek help from

If you have joint symptoms that concern you, an appointment with a primary care practitioner is a good start. As arthritis is hard to diagnose, consulting a Rheumatologists would be the next best thing to do. Rheumatologists are specialists in arthritis and diseases that involve bones, muscles and joints. They are trained to make difficult diagnoses and to treat all types of arthritis, especially those requiring complex treatment.