Arthritis is a general term used to describe painful conditions that affect the joints in the body or places where the bones come together. The condition mainly affects the wrists, knees, fingers, toes and hips. Arthritis is a common condition, affecting one in four adults. According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 78 million people are expected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis by the year 2040. But despite being such a widespread condition, it’s not very well understood. World Arthritis Day is observed every year on October 12 to help us understand this disabling condition a little better. World Arthritis Day 2018: Theme and Significance of the Day and 5 Quick Facts About The Painful Condition.
What Are The Types of Arthritis?
Arthritis, however, isn’t one disease but an umbrella term used for more than 100 diseases. There are primarily two types of arthritis – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis refers to a painful condition that affects joints at the hips, knees, neck, lower back, fingers and hands. Osteoarthritis is caused when the joints get injured due to repetitive actions while playing sports, etc. It can also get worsened if the person is overweight. Osteoarthritis shouldn’t be confused with osteoporosis, which is a very different condition.
Rheumatoid arthritis is another form of the disease which is autoimmune. It’s an inflammatory disease where the person’s immune system attacks the lining of the joints.
What Are The Symptoms of Arthritis?
Since the condition affects the joints of the body, most of the symptoms are related to discomfort in those areas. Symptoms also depend on the type of arthritis you are suffering from. Here are some of the general ones. Drinking Baking Soda Could Combat Autoimmune Disease, Reveals Study.
Dr Sachin Bhonsale, Senior Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon from Fotis, Mumbai says: "Common inflammatory disease symptoms represent swelling, pain, stiffness and diminished motion. Symptoms might come back and go, however, they will be delicate, moderate or severe. They might remain constant for years, but may progress or intensify over a period of time. The severe inflammatory disease may lead to chronic pain, inability to perform daily activities and make it tough to run or climb stairs. Inflammatory disease will cause permanent changes to the joints. These changes are also visible, like knobby finger joints, however, typically the harm will solely be seen on X-ray. Some varieties of the inflammatory disease can also impact the eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin."
What Causes Arthritis?
Repetitive Actions: Repetitive actions wear down the cartilage which cushions the meeting point of the two bones, causing them to rub together. This causes pain, swelling and immobility. Fighting with Partner Can Worsen Diabetes, Arthritis Symptoms.
Immune System: The enzymes released by the immune system target the lining as if it is a foreign tissue or pathogen. This results in pain, swelling, inflammation and reduced mobility. Over time, it can also cause malformation of the joints.
Body Weight: Being overweight can either cause or worsen joint pain. Excess body weight puts pressure on the joints like the hips and the knees.
Infections: Some arthritis can be caused by infectious pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcal pneumonia, Neisseria gonorrheoae, anaerobic bacteria, mycobacterial species, brucellosis, Borrelia burgdorferi, sporotrichosis, coccidioidomycosis, viruses (Parvovirus, Enterovirus, and Rubella).
Who is at Risk of Arthritis?
Family History: Family history of arthritis – in parents or siblings – makes one more prone.
Age: More the age, greater the risk of the disease.
Gender: Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women than it is in men. But men are more likely to develop other types of arthritis such as gout.
Injuries: People who have suffered joint injuries are more prone to arthritis.
Obesity: Being overweight can put pressure on the joints, increasing the chances of arthritis.
Occupation: Certain occupations like sports cause joint pain.
What Are The Complications of Arthritis?
Apart from the discomfort and the pain, arthritis can often lead to other health complications:
- Persistent joint pain
- Malformation of joints
- Lung diseases
- Heart diseases
How is Arthritis Diagnosed and Treated?
Arthritis can be diagnosed using X-rays to gauge the progression of the disease. CT scans can help get a cross-sectional view of the joints. MRI and ultrasound testing can produce cross-sectional images of the soft tissues and cartilages.
There is no cure for osteoarthritis and the damage is permanent. The disease is treated with the intention of reducing pain, swelling and inflammation. Painkillers like acetaminophen, oxycodone and hydrocodone are used to reduce the discomfort.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to treat both inflammation and pain. Corticosteroids like prednisone and cortisone are used to suppress the immune system, in the case of rheumatoid arthritis, to reduce attacks on the joints.
Topic gels containing NSAIDs and counterirritants can be applied on the skin over the painful joint. NSAIDs work by decreasing inflammatory proteins and counterirritants interfere with the transmission of the pain signals.
Physiotherapy can help to a certain extent by helping the person with immobility, by improving his or her range of motion.
When the non-invasive methods don’t work, doctors consider surgery, joint replacement and joint fusion to counter the problem.
What Are Some of the Home Remedies for Arthritis?
To reduce some of the symptoms of arthritis, alternative methods of healing can be considered like acupuncture, yoga or massage.
Reducing weight can reduce the pressure on the joints, thereby reducing the pain.
Ginger, eucalyptus, aloe vera, green tea and turmeric are some of the ingredients that help reduce the inflammation and the pain in arthritic conditions.