October 05 2021
What is arthritis?
Arthritis means inflammation of joints. In Arthritis, one joint can be involved or multiple. When it comes to arthritis, there are more than 100 different types. All of them have different causes and treatment. The most common types of arthritis include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Arthritis is usually seen in people above 65. That being said, it may also develop in children, teens and younger adults. The symptoms of arthritis may develop gradually or suddenly. Also, it is seen that the condition is more common in women than in men. Further, overweight people are more prone to arthritis.
Symptoms of arthritis
Well, the most common symptoms of arthritis are joint pain, stiffness and swelling. With arthritis, your joint movement can also be decreased. Also, people with arthritis find their symptoms worse in the morning. Usually, their skin turns red around the affected joint.
The immune system causes inflammation, which thereby results in loss of appetite. Also, people feel tired and are surrounded by lethargy. Besides that, your red blood cell count may drop leaving you anaemic. A slight fever may also be experienced. If severe rheumatoid arthritis is left untreated it may lead to joint deformity.
What is the cause of arthritis? Why does it happen?
When we move, a shock is created in our joints. Now this shock is well absorbed by a firm and flexible tissue called cartilage. It absorbs the pressure and shock thereby allowing fine movements. Now, what if there is a reduction in the normal amount of connective tissue? The outcome is none other than arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the result of normal wear and tear. Also, if there is any injury or infection in the affected joint, then the condition becomes much worse. If you have a family history of osteoarthritis, then your risk of developing the same condition increases.
Unlike Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. It means that it is the condition wherein your own body attacks its tissues. This immune attack affects the synovium. What is synovium? Synovium is the soft tissue that produces a lubricating fluid for the nourishment of your cartilage.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of the synovium. Eventually, it destroys your bone as well the cartilage inside the joint.
But why does your body's immune system attack its tissue? Well, the exact cause is not known yet. However, researchers have discovered certain genetic markers that increase the risk of developing Rheumatoid arthritis.
Diagnosis of Arthritis
So if you are unsure who to see for arthritis diagnosis, then look for your primary care physician. A physical exam will be performed by them to check for fluid around your joints, warm joints, and limited range of motion in the joints. Also, if you need a specialist, your doctor will refer you to him.
If you experience the extreme symptoms of the disease, you may refer to a rheumatologist for father's diagnosis and thereafter treatment.
To make the diagnosis of the type of arthritis you have, the doctor will analyze the levels of the inflammatory marker in joint fluids and blood. Also, some blood tests can be done to check for specific types of antibodies like anti-CCP ( anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide), RF( rheumatoid factor), and ANA ( antinuclear antibody). Usually, doctors use imaging scans like XRay, MRI and CT scans to rule out other causes of your symptoms like bone spurs.
Treatment of arthritis
The main aim of the treatment is to reduce the pain you're experiencing and prevent additional damage to your joints Now in terms of controlling pain, it depends from person to person what's best for them. For some people, heating pads and ice packs relieve pain. For others, canes and walkers help them to take the pressure off sore joints. Besides, it's important to improve the joint function as well. To get the best results, your doctor may prescribe you a combination of various treatment methods.
Analgesics can help you to reduce pain, but they don't decrease inflammation. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs abbreviated as NSAIDs control pain and inflammation. Immunosuppressant can also reduce inflammation.
In Rheumatoid Arthritis, the doctor may prescribe corticosteroids or Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs abbreviated as DMARDs.These drugs suppress your immune system. For osteoarthritis, many drugs are available over the counter as well by prescription.
Sometimes doctors recommend having knee replacement or hip replacement surgeries wherein your joint is replaced with an artificial one. In case you have severe symptoms of arthritis in your fingers or wrists, then joint fusion can be performed wherein the ends of the bones are locked together until they heal and become one.
Physical Therapy is a core component of arthritis treatment. The exercises help to strengthen the muscle around your affected joint.
Lifestyle changes that might help you with arthritis
Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of development of osteoarthritis and can also reduce the symptoms if you already have it. There are many foods rich in antioxidants which can help you reduce inflammation, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, fish and nuts.
In arthritis, you ought to avoid or minimize certain foods as well including fried food, processed food, dairy food and high intake of meat. Also, research says that people with Rheumatoid arthritis have a presence of gluten antibodies. And for this very reason, a gluten-free diet can help them to improve symptoms.
People with arthritis should do exercises regularly. This will keep their joints flexible. Swimming accounts to be a good exercise in this condition as it does not put pressure on your joints as in walking and running. Staying active is important but do remember not to overexert yourself. Take rest as and when you need.
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The long-term outlook for people with arthritis
Well as such there is no cure for arthritis but the right treatment can help you to minimize the symptoms. In addition to the treatment recommended by the doctor, you may also adopt various lifestyle changes to manage your arthritis.