Arthritis: Symptoms, Causes, Types and Treatment

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is simply an inflammation that mostly occurs in joints. It can also occur on a particular joint or multiple joints. A place where two different joints meet is known as joint.  The main function of a joint is to move effectively all body parts that are connected by its bones. It tends to affect both kids and adults.

Most arthritis is usually followed by joint pains. It is mostly found in women than men and also in overweight people. Another name for joint pains is called arthralgia. Monoarthritis is known when a single joint is involved. When two or three joints are involved is known as Oligoarthritis and when four or more joints are involved, it is termed polyarthritis.

Types of Arthritis

Arthritis has more than a hundred types, and the number is increasing each day. Also, we will be looking at the two most common ones, namely:

Rheumatoid Arthritis: It involves inflammation of the immune system.

Osteoarthritis: This is a type of arthritis that arises when flexible tissues at the ends of bones tear and wear down.

Causes of Arthritis

The several causes of arthritis are dependent on its form. Some forms of arthritis causes could arise when there is a reduction in the flexible connective tissue in your joints. Other causes include:

  • Hereditary factors;
  • Injuries resulting in osteoarthritis;
  • A misdirected autoimmunity with an immune system: Here, the autoimmune system tends to attack the tissues in the body. It can be found in systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis;
  • Metabolic abnormalities: Usually gout and pseudogout;
  • Bacterial and viral infections: These could be either direct or indirect.

Arthritis Risk Factors

The main risk factor for most form of arthritis is inherited genes from progenitors’. There is usually a higher risk of contracting osteoarthritis in families with the disease history. Also, there is an injury risk from specific activities usually trauma-related arthritis.

Joint pains could arise from injury affecting ligaments and tendons of the joints. The following are signs and symptoms associated with joint pains:

Locking of the joint; joint swelling; weakness and stiffness; joint redness and joint tenderness.

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Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis Signs and Symptoms

  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Joint pains
  • Joint swellings
  • Joint stiffness
  • Reduction in your red blood cell count
  • Feeling tired
  • Slight fever feelings

Osteoarthritis Signs and Symptoms

  • Joint stiffness
  • A reduction in ones range of motion
  • Redness of skin around joints
  • Joint swelling
  • Joint pain

Diagnosis of Arthritis

Consulting your doctor is the first bold step to take if you discover any strange feelings and symptoms in your body. He will then assess your symptoms and see if you have inflammation in joints and limited range of motion around the joints.

The doctor will also ask you questions on the signs and symptoms you told him for effective diagnosis. You might also be directed to a specialist like a rheumatologist in severe cases for prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Also, you might be asked to perform tests on your urine, joint fluid, blood, and X-ray tests might be done. Blood tests help to identify special antibodies such as an anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP), antinuclear antibody (ANA), and rheumatoid factor (RF). Imaging scans from X-ray, CT-scans, and MRI help doctors have the clear image of your cartilage and bones.

Several visits will be recommended before the doctor can ascertain your diagnosis. This helps the rheumatologist diagnose you accurately and effectively. Irreversible damage and disability could be averted since the symptoms are detected earlier and diagnosed immediately.

Adequate rest and exercise, guided prescriptions, physical therapy, and surgery could help normalize people with arthritis. Exercises help stabilize the joints and strengthen the muscles to improve balance. Physical therapists could also assist in the type of exercises to be performed by the patient.

Finally, it is important to maintain communication with your doctor even after being diagnosed properly for your optimal health. He will then know how you are responding to your medications, notable signs after diagnosis to see if another treatment will be needed. You will be guided on some habits you should avoid like continuous smoking or drinking of alcohol even after a successful diagnosis.

Arthritis Diet

Although in most forms of arthritis, diets play a trivial or no role in alleviating the condition. It is recommended that osteoarthritis patients should consume oils of fish which is a good source of omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

Foods with a high level of purines like shellfish and red meats should be avoided especially for metabolic arthritis patients. Also, drinking of alcohol and corn syrup present in soft drinks should be averted because they tend to increase uric acid level in the body. For patients with celiac disease, foods like barley, wheat, and rye can deteriorate pains in the joint.

Arthritis Foods to Avoid

Studies have shown that there are no widely accepted foods a person with arthritis must avoid except for patients with a unique metabolic form of arthritis in gout and celiac disease. Fructose-containing foods like corn syrup could make gout to be precipitated by rapid dehydration. Foods with high purines content like shellfish, red meats and seafood and consumption of alcoholic drinks must be avoided by gout patients. People with arthritis of celiac disease should avoid eating barley, rye, and wheat as it might worsen their condition.

What Is The Treatment For Arthritis?

Arthritis treatment is carried out based on the exact type of arthritis present. The patient will experience an increased chance for successful treatment with an accurate diagnosis. The main aim for the treatment is to reduce the number of pains you have been living with and prevent additional damages to your joints. Some people use cold-packs or heating pad in relieving their pains. Others tend to employ mobility assistance devices like walkers or canes to help reduce sore joints pressure. We have others treatment like:

  1. Surgery
  2. Medications
  3. Physical therapy

Surgery

This type of treatment involves the act of removing your joints and replacing it with an artificial one. It is usually carried out to replace the knees and hips.

osteoarthritis surgery

Most doctors may suggest joint fusion surgery if your pains around your wrists and fingers are extremely severe. This involves locking of the ends of your bones together until they heal and become whole.

Medications

The following medications are used in treating different arthritis:

  • Use of capsaicin cream or menthol helps in blocking pains transmission signals from the joints.
  • Analgesics substances like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and hydrocodone (Vicodin) are suitable for proper pain management. One disadvantage of these drugs is they don’t help reduce inflammation.
  • Drugs like cortisone and prednisone could help reduce inflammation in your joints.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They include salicylates and ibuprofen (Motrin and Advil) which helps reduce pain and control inflammation effectively. Cautions should be taken especially in salicylates because it can thin your blood.
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) could be prescribed to patients with rheumatoid arthritis to help suppress their immune system. Never take any medications without consulting your doctor for your optimal health.

Physical Therapy

This type of treatment involves the use of exercise in strengthening the muscles around the affected joint. It is mostly carried out effectively well with the help of a physiotherapist.

Lifestyle Changes That Can Help People With Arthritis

There are some lifestyles that can be helpful or mar people living with this disease. Here are the various lifestyles:

  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages and smoking because it could worsen your condition and eventually lead to death.
  • Reducing weight loss by consuming a healthy diet helps reduce the risk of contracting osteoarthritis and its symptoms. Eat foods like fresh fruits, fish, herbs, nuts, and vegetables to help in the reduction of inflammation in your joints.
  • Foods like dairy products, fried foods, processed foods, and high meat consumptions should be avoided or taken in a small controlled amount.
  • A study in 2015 prescribed a gluten-free diet for any person diagnosed with undifferentiated connective tissue disease.
  • Indulging in regular exercises like swimming will strengthen your joints and muscles. Swimming doesn’t put pressure on your joints unlike walking and running. Try not to over exercised yourself and afford adequate rest where necessary.
  • You can decide to perform the following exercises at home during your leisure time;
  • Bending your thumbs and fingers to relieve pains in your hands
  • Gently tilt your head, rotating of your neck and other exercises to ease pain around your neck
  • Hamstring stretches, leg raises and other easy exercises for knee arthritis.

What Are The Prognosis (Outlook) For People With Arthritis?

Although there are no cures for it, a precise treatment could go a long way in reducing your symptoms.

The outlook for arthritis patients lies on how severe, complicated, and whether or not existed non-joint manifestation of the disease. Movements are very difficult or impossible in the case of a chronic joint inflammation because the joints could be completely damaged.

Finally, you can make an adjustment to your lifestyle to improve your condition.

Is IT Possible To Prevent Arthritis?

Most of the forms of this disease are mainly inherited thereby making it difficult to be prevented. Although arthritis with a joint injury could be prevented by sticking to its safety regulations and avoid being injured. An individual plays a major role in preventing this disease by avoiding being infected with the causative organism as in the case of reactive arthritis, septic arthritis, and Whipple’s disease.

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Who Is A Rheumatologist?

A rheumatologist is a medical doctor who does specialize in the non-surgical treatment of arthritis. They might be addressed as a consultant or given the position of a medical detective at the request of other doctors. Rheumatologists possess special interests in unexplained arthritis, fever, rash, weight loss, fatigue, weakness, anemia, muscle pain or joint, anorexia and autoimmune disease.

A student aspiring to be a rheumatologist must study rheumatology in medical school for four years, undergo one year of internship in internal medicine, two years of internal medicine residency, and two years of rheumatology fellowship.

One can get rheumatology certification with the American Board of Internal Medicine as a certified rheumatologist.

Pediatric rheumatologists are physicians that specialize in providing intensive care to children (also their families) experiencing arthritis. Other doctors like general medicine doctors, orthopedic surgeons, family medicine doctors, and internists tend to treat arthritis together with a pediatrician.

What Is Arthritis Foundation?

Arthritis Foundation is a national voluntary health organization whose main objective is to provide support to all forms of arthritis. This foundation has national and international programs in place to support scientific research, training of specialists, scholarships for affected patients and their families, local community assistance and public awareness.

Also, local branch chapters of the Arthritis Foundation aids in the dissemination of useful information on arthritis and rheumatic diseases, and also acts as a referral centers to the locals. Most of the local communities have different forms of arthritis that have their own foundations that house information and referral health resources for locals.

Medical Advice for Arthritis Patients

  • Always refer to your medical doctor if you notice any unusual feelings and symptoms in your body
  • Avoid smoking and drinking of beers as it might worsen your condition and eventually lead to death
  • Make eating of healthy diets your priority to boost your health
  • Do involve in simple physical exercises at home to stimulate your muscles and joints effectively
  • Always be in contact with your medical doctor even after successful treatment to maintain your health
  • Go for a medical checkup at least once every two months to maintain good health status
  • Do not take any drug that is not prescribed by your medical doctor.

Summary

We have been shown how we can prevent contracting this disease by maintaining a good lifestyle and also avoid being infected with some of its causative organisms.

Researchers are working tirelessly to design the best treatment programs for any form of arthritis to make patients enjoy their health.

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