Quick 30 Seconds Summary of Guide To Arthritis
- Arthritis is the inflammation or degeneration of the joints.
- There are more than 200 types of joint conditions that fall broadly under the category of arthritis.
- Joint pain, decreased range of motion, swelling, stiffness and tenderness are some of the common arthritic symptoms.
- Arthritis is a chronic disease which means it can only be managed and not cured completely.
- Healthy lifestyle, medication, physical therapy and surgery are some ways of treating arthritis.
Arthritis is a joint pain condition that affects millions of people globally. In the USA alone, 54.4 million residents suffer from arthritis. This article is an exhaustive guide to all things arthritis.
You will find:
- Overview of Arthritis
- Type of Arthritis
- Symptoms of Arthritis
- Arthritis Treatments
- Alternative Arthritis Treatments
- Causes of Arthritis
What Is Arthritis? - An Overview
Arthritis is one of the most common joint pain disorders globally. Arthritis is a medical condition associated with chronic inflammation or degeneration of the joints causing joint pain to the patient. It is a common term that describes 200 types of conditions that are related to the joints and the connective tissues around them.
Most of the times arthritis is found in the knees, hips, lower back, feet and hands.
Approximately 180 million Indians are affected by arthritis and around 14% of the Indian population seeks medical treatment for joint diseases every year. In the United States, 54.4 million adults suffer from some form of arthritis.
What Are The Different Types Of Arthritis?
While arthritis is an umbrella term, there are many sub-categories or types of arthritis. Following are some of the most common ones:
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder wherein the immune system of the patient attacks its own body tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of chronic disorder that affects more than the joints. This type of arthritis leads to painful swelling around the lining of the joints which may eventually lead to bone erosion and deformity.
Amongst the different types of arthritis, Osteoarthritis is the most commonly occurring condition. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage around the joints starts wearing out and deteriorating. It is also known as a “wear and tear” disorder which can be managed with medical treatments and exercise.
Patients who are suffering from psoriasis are susceptible to psoriatic arthritis. Psoriasis is a skin disease where the patient has red patches of skin with silvery scales. Psoriatic arthritis is incurable but manageable with medical treatments.
Unnaturally high levels of uric acid in the blood, lead to the formation of urate crystals which develop into severe bouts of joint pain and swelling of the joints. Gout is a complex type of arthritis that is not easy to treat and chronic in nature.
This is a fairly uncommon type of arthritis according to the research done by the Perfect Health Magazine team. Reactive arthritis occurs when there is an infection in some part of the body typically the intestines, genitals or urinary tract. Reactive arthritis is accompanied by swelling of the joints and pain in mobility. Reactive arthritis does not last forever and recedes once the infection is treated.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that affects the spinal cord of the body. Ankylosing spondylitis leads to inflammation in the joints near the spinal cord. The hip, shoulder, lower back, the cartilage near the breastbone and ribs are highly affected in this type of arthritis.
What Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis?
Depending on the type of arthritis the symptoms of arthritis will vary. However, some symptoms are common and generally affect all arthritis patients.
Symptoms of Arthritis:
- Stiffness in the joints
- Swelling of the joints
- Increased tenderness or sensitivity of the joints
- Redness in the area affected
- Mild to severe joint pain
- The joints are warm to the touch
- Mild to severe limitations in joint mobility
What Are The Causes Of Arthritis?
Causes of arthritis differ based on the type of arthritis for example gout is caused by an excess of uric acid in the body. But there are some causes that may be seen as common causes in all or most types of arthritis such as:
- Ageing – causes a lot of wear and tear to the joints.
- Heredity – family history of arthritis is seen as a major cause.
- Health – obesity, sedentary lifestyle or other such health factors can cause arthritis.
- Genetic imbalances – autoimmune disorders can cause arthritis.
How Is Arthritis Diagnosed?
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of arthritis visit a general physician immediately for a detailed and correct diagnosis of your medical condition.
Arthritis is diagnosed through a physical examination where the doctor can observe and check the swelling of the joints, redness, stiffness and pain.
For a better and accurate diagnosis, the doctor may recommend blood and urine tests. In some cases, imaging may also be prescribed for understanding the intensity of arthritis.
Treatment of Arthritis
Arthritis in itself is an incurable medical condition. It is a chronic medical condition that can be managed with the right medication and other forms of treatment.
Perfect Health Magazine will now share the different treatment avenues for arthritis:
The main aim of arthritis medication is pain management, strengthening the joints and letting the patient live their lives as normally as possible. With this in mind, doctors prescribe NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) which deliver pain relief to the patients. Reduction of inflammation and regaining mobility is achieved through medication.
In the case of rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis, doctors may recommend biologics, which target the immune system’s inflammatory response.
Painkillers are commonly prescribed as SOS medications in case of bouts of severe pain or swelling.
Ointments and creams for external application are also a popular choice for reducing swelling and stiffness.
Physical therapy for arthritis is one of the best forms of treatment. Professional physio therapists can assist in the rehabilitation of joint pain. Physical therapy using modern technology and correct exercises can increase the strength of the joints, improve mobility and reduce pain organically for the patient.
If arthritis has advanced beyond pain management, the doctor may suggest surgery such as joint replacement surgery or hip replacement surgery. These surgeries give a new lease of life to the long-suffering patient who can retain physical mobility and have renewed strength.
Healthy Diet and Lifestyle
Controlling obesity and having an active lifestyle is extremely important for people with chronic arthritis. Calcium supplements, including turmeric and milk in your diet, are some other key factors that can positively impact the life of a person with arthritis. Exercise, stretching and practices that improve joint mobility should be regularly done by arthritis patients for a good quality of life.
What Are Alternative Treatments For Arthritis?
Eastern medicine and wisdom can definitely play a big role in managing arthritis for patients all over the globe. Yoga and Ayurveda from India while acupuncture and Tai Chi from China are best known alternative treatments for arthritis.
Ayurvedic remedies include different “Rasayanas” or “Kadhas” (herbal potions) that naturally enrich the body with anti-inflammatory ingredients. These potions have a generous number of ingredients that increase Vitamin C in the body. Vitamin C is essential to combat skeletal pain which is a common symptom of arthritis.
Yogasanas when learnt under the right Guru can resolve a lot of joint pain issues. They increase the flexibility and core strength of the patient. Regular Yoga practices have worked wonders on arthritis patients.
Acupuncture – a Chinese practice that is approximately 2000 years old, can help in pain management for arthritis. Research shows that acupuncture needles when placed at the right locations can trigger neurotransmitters and increase the production of hormones such as cortisol (anti-inflammatory hormone). It gives pain relief and increases joint mobility. Although western science doesn’t recognize acupuncture, it has proven to be a boon for patients with arthritis.
Tai Chi is a Chinese form of mixed martial art and meditation that demands focus from the practitioner. Tai Chi increases joint mobility and calms the mind of the doer. It is effective for arthritis.