Know your Arthritis Better: Symptoms, Causes, Types and Treatments
Arthritis is a disease that causes pain and inflammation of joints and, in severe cases, may also lead to joint degeneration and bone weakness. It is more dominant in some areas of the body than others, such as the feet, hands, knees, and lower back. The problem of arthritis is generally considered an age-related concern, but modern lifestyle changes have led people of all ages to be equally susceptible to the disease. The major causes of arthritis are wear and tear of joints, age, past injury, hereditary, and weak bone density.
Causes of Arthritis
There is no single reason for arthritis, but it can vary according to the type or form of arthritis.
- Infections, such as arthritis or Lyme disease
- Injury leading to degenerative arthritis
- Inheritance, such as osteoarthritis
- Immune system dysfunction as in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
- Abnormal metabolism, leading to gout and pseudogout which are caused by accumulation of crystals in the joints.
Most types of arthritis are correlated to a combination of factors, but some have no apparent cause and are unpredictable in their emergence.
Symptoms of Arthritis
- Swollen and painful joints:
The most common symptom of arthritis is joint pain, which is described as dull, achy, and occasionally throbbing. Because arthritis is an inflammatory disease, joint pain and tenderness may be accompanied by redness, and swelling.
- Stiffness of the joints:
The range of motion in arthritic joints is often severely limited. This can manifest as difficulty performing simple arm movements such as raising your arms above shoulder height and other simple daily activities.
- Deformities of the joints:
Due to persistent inflammation and injury, arthritic joints may develop scar tissue, bone overgrowth, and other degenerative changes. This can result in lumps, abnormal joint alignments, and even joint enlargements.
- Joint ache that aggravates in the morning hours:
A person with arthritis will often take longer to warm up and move than someone with healthy joints. Symptoms such as pain and stiffness usually intensify in the morning or after rising from a long period of sitting.
Most Common Types of Arthritis
There are more than fifty types of arthritis. But the five most common types are as follows:
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is generally caused by the overuse of joints. This condition usually affects weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, feet, and spine and develops gradually.
- Rheumatoid arthritis:
This is an inflammatory and auto-immune condition that attacks healthy cells causing painful swelling in the joints, especially in the hands, wrists, and knees. It can result in chronic, long-term pain, loss of balance, or physical changes, as well as affect surrounding tissues such as the eyes, lungs, or heart.
Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes chronic pain and tenderness throughout the body. This is caused not due to joint, bone, or muscle problems, as is the case with arthritis, but by our nervous system’s inability to control or process pain signals from other parts of the body.
Gout is a severe form of arthritis caused by an overflow or inability to process uric acid. Symptoms appear suddenly and acutely, usually beginning from the big toe. If left untreated, gout attacks can worsen, become more frequent, and damage your joints and kidneys.
Lupus is another inflammatory auto-immune arthritic condition. This type of arthritis can last a long time and is also caused by the body’s immune system attacking healthy, normal tissue. This swelling and inflammation can harm joints, kidneys, and even the blood.
Treatment for Arthritis
The doctor may advise an arthritis patient to take different medicines in the early stages. These medications vary according to the type of arthritis, such as pain relievers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-irritants, and so on.
- Physical Therapy:
Physiotherapy is an important part of most people’s arthritis treatment. It can help relieve joint pain and stiffness while also improving mobility. Apart from manual therapy, a physiotherapist also helps patients understand what happens to their joints and muscles when they have arthritis. Understanding the cause of their arthritis can help them manage its effects more efficiently.
Arthritis symptoms can worsen and become unbearable at times. If medications and physiotherapy are ineffective, then in such cases, doctors recommend advanced treatment or surgery. The most common surgery is knee transplant surgery, in which the damaged joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint. This artificial joint functions similarly to a natural joint.
- Therapeutic injections:
Arthritis in specific joints, such as your knee, may be relieved by injecting lubricants into the joints to allow them to move more smoothly. This treatment is called visco supplementation. There are also other therapeutic injections which may help temporarily relieve pain and inflammation in your joints.
- Food Intake:
Another important thing related to arthritis is the intake of food that helps reduce inflammation.
- Food rich in omega-3 fatty acids like seafood, nuts, and seeds has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation.
- Grapes can be beneficial to people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. Grapefruit extract, according to research, contains an element called proanthocyanin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce arthritis inflammation and prevent bone loss.
- Keep your body hydrated by drinking at least 3 liters of water throughout the day.
- Consuming vitamin C rich fruits, such as seasonal oranges, pineapples, kiwis, lemons, berries, etc., can help with arthritis.
Early management of symptoms is important to avoid chronic health complications and unwanted surgeries to recover. Apollo Homecare provides physiotherapy and rehabilitation services in the comfort of your home to help you reduce the pain, increase mobility, and prevent any further complications.