Arthritis is a common medical condition which affects millions of people worldwide. In the United States alone, over 53 million Americans have arthritis. It is painful, disruptive, and can negatively impact your quality of life.
Getting information on facts about arthritis can be very helpful in preventing and treating the disease. This article will discuss everything you need to know about arthritis: arthritis facts – types, symptoms, and treatment.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a common disorder characterized by pain, stiffness, and inflammation of the joints. It is not a single disease, but a term given to any disorder that affects the joints. Arthritis can affect only a single joint, or in some cases, multiple joints. The severity can vary from a mild ache and stiffness, to intense pain and joint deformity.
Symptoms of Arthritis
Pain in the affected joint is a common symptom in all types of arthritis. Swelling, stiffness, and aching around the joints are also present. Other symptoms include:
- Joint pain
- Redness of the skin
- Muscle weakness
- Painful movement
- Loss of flexibility
Types of Arthritis
There are around 100 types of arthritis. These are the most common:
- Osteoarthritis – Also known as degenerative arthritis, this is the most common type of arthritis. It results from the wear and tear of the joints. Genetics and metabolism can also be contributing factors. Osteoarthritis evolves in middle age and usually affects older people.
- Rheumatoid arthritis – This is a severe type of inflammatory joint disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder wherein the body’s own immune system damages joints and surrounding tissues. Several joints (in the hands, wrists, arms, and feet) become very painful, stiff, and deformed. This condition is more common in women and occurs in people younger than those with osteoarthritis.
- Infective arthritis – This condition is also known as pyogenic or septic arthritis. Infective arthritis is a disease caused by the invasion of bacteria into a joint from an infected wound or an infection in the bloodstream. The affected joint becomes swollen, red, warm, and painful. Arthritis can also occur as a complication of an infection anywhere in the body, such as mumps, chickenpox, and rheumatic fever.
- Seronegative arthritis – It is a group of disorders which cause signs and symptoms of arthritis, although results of blood tests for rheumatoid arthritis are negative. Seronegative arthritis may be associated with skin diseases such as psoriasis, intestinal diseases, or autoimmune disorders.
- Still’s disease – Also known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, this type is most common in young children under the age of four. Usually, the condition clears up after a few years but may leave the child with permanent deformities and stunt growth.
- Ankylosing spondylitis – This type of arthritis affects the pelvic joints and the spine. The joints linking the vertebrae become inflamed and the spinal bones fuse. Ankylosing spondylitis may also affect other joints, such as the hips and knees.
- Gout – This disease is associated with a type of arthritis wherein uric acid accumulates in the joints, causing inflammation. Uric acid is a type of waste product in the body which can be deposited in the joints in the form of crystals. In general, gout affects one joint at a time.
How to Diagnose Arthritis
The diagnosis of arthritis is made from a patient’s signs and symptoms. To determine the underlying cause, fluid may need to be taken from an affected joint. The fluid will then be subjected to microscopic examination to see if microorganisms or uric acid crystals are present. In some cases, a culture is made so it can be analyzed for any infection.
X-rays may need to be taken to determine the type and extent of damage to the joints. Blood tests can detect the presence of proteins associated with rheumatoid arthritis. A high uric acid level is indicative of gout. Sometimes, a high erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) is found, indicating inflammation.
Treatment is specific to the type of arthritis. Anti-inflammatory drugs are given to treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. For septic arthritis, antibiotic drugs are prescribed. Doctors usually prescribe allopurinol for patients suffering from gout. Other drugs are used in treating different forms of arthritis.
Bed rest will help reduce the joint inflammation during a severe attack of arthritis. Splinting of the affected joint can aid in relieving pain. To keep joint deformity to a minimum, heat and supervised exercise can be applied. Obese people with arthritis in weight-bearing joints should try to lose weight.
Joints which have become very painful, unstable, or deformed may require joint replacement with an artificial substitute (arthroplasty) or fusion of bones in the joint (arthrodesis). Medications, physical therapy and lifestyle changes (weight control and exercise) are the primary treatments for arthritis.
Self Help Measures for Arthritis
- Apply a pain cream made from natural ingredients – Real Time Pain Relief is a topical cream that you can apply on the skin to relieve aches and pains, including arthritis. It contains natural ingredients such as Arnica, Aloe Vera, Glucosamine, Willow Bark, Emu Oil, Capsicum, and Menthol. Real Time Pain Relief has soothing properties and can help in relieving pain from affected joints.
- Try heat therapy – Applying heat therapy can provide arthritis pain relief by increasing oxygen and blood flow to the affected joints. It also induces muscle relaxation around the affected area. Start your day by applying a hot compress, or you can buy a heating pad from your local pharmacy. Check the temperature first before applying it to the skin.
- Eat grapes – This delicious fruit contains polyphenols, which can help reduce pain and improve joint mobility. Grapes also contain resveratrol, a compound which inhibits COX-2, an enzyme that causes arthritic pain and inflammation. Aside from this, grapes are rich in antioxidants which are very good for overall health.
- Vitamin C and Vitamin D – A medical research revealed that regular intake of Vitamin C could reduce the risk of developing arthritis by 30%. Foods that are rich in this vitamin include oranges, pineapples, mangoes, strawberries, and bell peppers. Meanwhile, a study revealed that people who eat a Vitamin D-rich diet could reduce the risk for worsened arthritis symptoms by 75%. Get Vitamin D from sunlight, milk, and fish.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Being overweight or obese increases the amount of pressure on the joints. Losing weight can reduce the pain on the affected joint and help prevent the condition from worsening. A study showed that weight loss could decrease the likelihood of osteoarthritis – a 31% reduction in women and 21% reduction in men. You can start losing weight by cutting down on trans fats and saturated fats.
Arthritis is a common disorder characterized by inflammation, pain, and stiffness of the joints. It has many types and varies widely in its effects. Only a few people become severely disabled, but left untreated, it can lead to joint deformity. Many people with arthritis are able to lead productive lives. In some cases, a modification of physical activities is needed to preserve the joints and prevent further damage.
Share this article.