The arthritis is commonly described as stiffness and swelling of one or more joints that may get worsen with age. Arthritis is of numerous different types; it is not just a single condition. If having a pain around joints and it is not going away as observed till few days, it’s alarming and should have a consultation with the doctor.
The pain caused by arthritis can make life tough and still there is no complete cure but during these year’s treatments have been improved, once it is caught at an earlier stage, treatment may prove to be beneficial.
It can affect even children, teenagers and people of all ages. There are several factors that can increase the risk of arthritis, one can be the reason that the genes inherited by the parents may lead to this disease.
The symptoms may even vary from day to day and from week to week, the right treatment can manage the symptoms and stay active physically will be good for the overall health.
What is Arthritis
Arthritis is a disorder of joint or more joints with having a significant characteristic of inflammation. A joint in a body where two different bones connect and function to move the body parts, like fingers, wrists, knees and hips. But there are some other types that can be a cause of affecting connective tissues, organs including the skin.
Symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe and may come and go but even can stay for years and can get worse or progress over time. Due to severe arthritis, it makes the person unable to perform daily routine activities and make difficult to climb the steps or walk because of chronic pain.
The permanent joint changes can be caused due to arthritis and the damage to the joints can only be seen through X-ray. There are some types of arthritis that may affect, eyes, heart, kidneys, lungs, skin and joints as obvious.
Different Types of Arthritis
There are probably 200 types of arthritis that are divided into seven main groups:
It is a joint inflammation caused by an overactive immune system that attacks the body tissues. It affects people of all ages and can be diagnosed in young patients like 20-30 years of age. The most common symptoms are joint pain, swelling, inflammation in the internal organs like heart and lungs and on the other areas of the body like skin.
When this disease is detected and treated at its earlier stage, it can be greatly decreased or may disappear completely. The different types of inflammatory arthritis are
It is a rare type of arthritis that causes spine pain and stiffness. It usually starts at the lower back and can then spread up to the neck or conditions like damaging joints in other parts of the body.
It causes inflammation in the spinal bones and can leave the spine hunched in severe cases. There is no cure for this lifelong condition but exercise and medication can help easing pain.
It is a form of rheumatic disease that occurs when the body produces too much uric acid and unable to excrete enough. Gout is more common in men than women and can experience stones in the kidney and can even damage and dysfunction.
Other risk factors are heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity. Due to gout, the patient may suffer painful attacks in the joints that often appear in the big toe at first. Other joints like fingers, wrists, elbows knees, ankle, the foot may also be affected.
In this type of inflammatory arthritis, the skin shows a red scaly and itchy rash that takes place over the scalp, elbows, knees and inner part of the ears and can even cause changes to the nails.
Large joints, as well as small joints in the hands or feet, can be affected that cause swelling of a toe or finger. Spinal inflammation is even observed to have in the patients of psoriatic arthritis.
Degenerative or Mechanical Arthritis
Degenerative or mechanical arthritis refers to the conditions that mainly involve damaging the cartilage that covers the bones ends. This form of arthritis makes cartilage rougher and thinner whose function is to move the joints smoothly.
In the case of lost cartilage and changes in the joint functioning, the body starts to restructure the bone to restore its stability, but this causes bony growth that can damage the joints and can result in osteoarthritis the most commonly called condition.
Soft Tissue Musculoskeletal Pain
Musculoskeletal pain can be experienced by anyone caused by an injury to bones, joints, muscles and nerves. Sometimes pain in the entire body has been experienced by the patients and it seems like the muscles may have been pulled.
The back of a human is comprised of muscles, discs, bones and ligaments that support the body and this combination of structure when work together enables the person to move.
Back pain can occur in any of the above-mentioned components like a “slipped” disc can be one of the examples.
Back pain sometimes remains unclear and even can’t be identified by a doctor. Poor posture and strain can also lead to back pain.
Connective Tissue Disease (CTD)
It is a disease that affects the part of the body that connects the structure of the body together. Connective tissue is made up of proteins named Collagen and Elastin.
Collagen protein is found in skin, blood vessels, bone, cornea and ligaments. Elastin is a kind of stretchy protein that resembles a rubber band and is one of the major components of the skin. Due to the inflamed collagen and elastin, the patient suffers from connective disease tissue.
This disease is caused due to the lacking of vitamin C & D, exposure to non-toxic chemicals and ultraviolet lights.
Other types of arthritis are
Inflammation can sometimes be caused by the entrance of a bacterium, fungus or virus into a joint. Antibiotics can often clear the joint infection but sometimes arthritis becomes chronic and may damage the joint if the infection stays for some time.
Septic arthritis is a joint inflammation that affects the knee and hip and is caused by a fungal and bacterial infection. This can be developed when bacteria or other micro-organisms spread through the blood to a joint or when the joint is directly infected through injury.
The below-mentioned conditions can increase the risk of septic arthritis
- Bacteria present in the blood.
- Damage or existing joint disease.
- Due to injections or intravenous.
- Severe disease or illness.
- Implantation of artificial joints.
- Older age.
- Recent surgery
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis was previously known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and is the most common type of arthritis found in children under the age of 16.
This type of arthritis can cause prolonged joint pain, swelling and stiffness and can cause major complications like damage to the joint, eye inflammation and growing problem. Some children may have a symptom for just about a few months, while others may have for the rest of their lives.
Thumb arthritis happens because of ageing and in this type the cartilage in the joint wears away. This causes severe pain, swelling and decreased motion and restricts to do simple tasks like doorknob turning and jar openings etc.
Surgery is required if having severe thumb arthritis. Generally, treatment involves splints and medication combinations.
Reactive arthritis causes pain in the joints like knee, ankle, feet and produces swelling due to the infection in intestines, urinary tracts or genitals.
Reactive arthritis is not that common, the signs and symptoms come and go eventually.
Metabolic arthritis occurs when deposits in the joints are built by the body’s uric acid. The patient may suffer painful attacks in the joints that often appear in the big toe at first. Other joints like fingers, wrists, elbows knees, ankle, the foot may also be affected.
Signs and Arthritis Symptoms
The inflammation causes arthritis pain. It is the process in which the redness and swelling of joints caused. Joint tissues are damaged through this disease or from wear and tear. The strain on the muscles can be caused as they overworked and attempt to protect the joints by painful movements.
The joints will be stiff and hard to move if having arthritis. It has to be determined by the doctor what type of arthritis a person is suffering from, when and for how long the joints felt stiffness whether it is in the morning, after the following exercise or by sitting for a while.
The joints surrounding area looked red, may feel warm and hurt when get touched. It seems if the swollen area may contain some fluid. This is due to the inflamed tissue around the joint.
Inactive arthritis, joints redness is common and can be occurred in a single or multiple joint having in a body. Redness can also be caused due to joint injury.
Decreased range of motion
Reduction in the joint’s ability to move refers to as the decreased range of motion. The joints range of motion can be reduced severely due to pain, stiffness and swelling caused by arthritis.
What Causes Arthritis
In this disease, the inflammatory chemicals are released and the immune system is incapable to work well. The joints tissue is attacked by the resulting inflammation that leads to bone and cartilage damage, joint swelling with increased fluid and muscle loss. It has a direct impact on the other body’s nerves due to inflammatory chemicals that lead to pain.
The two common types of arthritis are
- Rheumatoid arthritis
In osteoarthritis, the cartilage that is considered to be the cushion on the bones end, wear away due to which the bones rub against each other. It happens usually due to the increasing age. This type of arthritis affects the entire joint and causes damage to the frictionless joint motion, which results in bone grinding, restricted movement and pain in the fingers, hips and knees.
This wear and tear take place over many years and cause changes in the bones and connecting tissue which becomes progressively worse. Inflammation of the joint lining is also caused.
This type of arthritis mostly targets thumbs, fingers, shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, ankles and feet. In this disease, the joint surface can be damaged by the body’s immune system that attacks its own tissues. It provides pain, trouble in moving, stiffness, swelling and also causes fever, fatigue, eye and lung inflammation and weight loss.
How is Arthritis diagnosed
A rheumatologist is an arthritis specialist and can make a diagnosis by asking medical and family history, by giving the physical exam, examine the cause of loss of motion in joints, redness and swelling, take samples and test joint fluid and conducts X-rays, MRIs, or ultrasounds.
How is Arthritis Treated
There are several different treatments for relieving and having improvement in joint function but that needs to be determined what suites best for arthritis treatment.
Arthritis can be treated with certain medications but that varies depending on the arthritis type. The medication includes painkillers that help to reduce pain but not effective on the inflammation.
Other drugs like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory have the ability to reduce both inflammation and pain. Some pain-relieving creams and pain relief oil are available that can be rubbed on the affected joints.
Joints can also be repaired by smoothing the surfaces in order to improve function and reduce pain. This type of surgery can be performed by inserting a small camera inside the joint.
Joint replacement can also be done. It is a procedure in which a damaged joint is removed and is replaced with the artificial one. The most commonly replaced joints are knees and hips.
The doctors often suggest physical therapy that helps arthritis patients to overcome. It includes:
- Warm Water Therapy
In this therapy, exercises are done in a warm water pool as the weight is supported by the water and put low pressure on the joints and muscles.
- Physical Therapy
Some exercises are designed keeping in view the condition and need of an individual that includes pain-relieving treatments like ice or hot packs and massage.
- Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapists help the disabled, injured and ill patients to recover, improve and develop maintaining daily living skills.
The physical activities that are joints friendly, appropriate for adults with having arthritis and heart disease include:
Splints or Joint Assistive Aids
An acute fracture is treated by a temporary device called a splint. They are made of materials such as rigid plastic or metal that is covered in various cloth materials (removable velcro splints are a common example), or made out of fibreglass or plaster.
Assistive devices like walkers, canes, raised toilet seats, shoe inserts can help protect joints and bring improvement in performing daily tasks.
Losing weight will help reducing stress on the joints. This can restrict joint injury that may be experienced in the future and increase a person’s mobility.
It is a therapy in which fine needles are inserted to reduce various types of pain that are caused by arthritis at specific points on the skin.
Glucosamine is a tough tissue and a natural compound that is found in cartilage and helps to cushion the joints. Glucosamine in supplement form is gathered from the shellfish shells or is made in the labs.
Glucosamine sulphate can orally use by people to treat painful conditions that are caused by inflammation and osteoarthritis.
It is a dietary supplement and the most important part of cartilage. It has been found in most of the studies that taking chondroitin can keep away the breaking down of cartilage and can even stimulate its repair mechanisms.
Massage can be helpful in different forms of arthritis and can improve healthy circulation throughout the arthritic joints, reduce swelling and improve quality of life. It’s necessary that massage therapists must know which joints are affected by arthritis.
Risk Factors for Arthritis
Overuse of Joints
Overuse of the joint may cause joint pain and inflammation by doing frequent activities like playing tennis, doing paintings, typing and video games etc. for a long period of time.
Knee osteoarthritis is more common in overweight people than those who are not and having excess weight can make it worse. Weight-bearing joints like knees and hips have more stress due to carrying extra weight.
Muscles in the neck and back have to overwork due to poor posture. The body’s immune system heal these muscles inflammation but can lead to arthritis in the nearby joints over a period of time.
What Lifestyle Changes can help People with Arthritis
The joints will experience less stress when having a healthy weight. Lesser the weight lesser will be the inflammation. As said by the Arthritis foundation that reduction in the stress will be by 4 pounds on weight-bearing joints on losing every single pound.
In order to minimize joint pain and to maintain them healthy, it’s necessary to take selective food. Fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, olive oil and whole grains are recommended by the doctors as they do have anti-inflammatory properties. Fish like salmon and tuna helps to fight in painful joint swelling. The turmeric spice is useful in easing arthritis symptoms.
It’s better to have a healthy diet to maintain lower body weight, it not only provides relief from the stress on joints but also reduces pain.
Foods to Avoid with Arthritis
Processed food should be avoided like prepackaged meals, snacks and baked items. These items contain trans fats that can be the cause of systemic inflammation. Red meat is even high in fats that may cause inflammation and high cholesterol.
Products from white flour-like white pasta, white bread and crackers are considered to be refined carbohydrates. It can cause a spike in blood glucose and is the cause of inflammation. High-fat dairy like cheese, cream, margarine, mayonnaise is high in saturated fats and triggers inflammation. The same causes the food containing refined sugar like soda, chocolate, pastries and even fruit juices.
The symptoms may get worst when a person having arthritis is not moving. It is pretty necessary to move right from that moment when getting up in the morning.
Various exercises as prescribed by the doctor that helps reducing stiffness supports joint and strengthen muscles.
Swimming helps in decreasing rheumatoid arthritis as it provides relief from stiffness, strengthen muscles and reduce stress from the joints.
Avoid Overexerting Yourself
It is necessary to know the body limits how much exertion can it bear. Lift lighter load with proper technique. Make a routine of practicing good posture and regular exercise.
Quality sleep helps reducing fatigue and can lessen pain. It’s necessary to take 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.
Caring for Joints
If having arthritis, it is important to lessen joint stress like lifting and moving in order to avoid further damage.
Long-Term Outlook for People with Arthritis
Most arthritis types can be managed with an early diagnosis that reduces pain, disability and prevents tissue damage. When having arthritis caught earlier, it is important to have an aggressive treatment that would help to restrict further damage.
Arthritis and children
The most common type of arthritis that children suffer from is juvenile arthritis. This arthritis can damage the joints permanently and make it hard for the child to do daily activities like dressing and walking.
It is still unknown the exact cause of childhood arthritis. The immune system in a child stops functioning well which results in joint inflammation. The symptoms are fever, swelling, stiffness, joint pain, loss of appetite, tiredness.
Symptoms may come and go over a period of time but any physical damage to the joint will remain.
Is Prevention of Arthritis Possible
It is always possible to prevent arthritis. Increasing age and family history are few causes and most types of arthritis are mainly common in women.
To reduce the risk, it is better to adopt a few healthy habits like
- Eating fish can lower the risk of arthritis as it contains omega-3 fatty acids and has the ability to reduce body inflammation.
- Weight must be controlled as the knees support the body weight, can get affected if being overweight.
- Make exercise a habit that strengthens the muscles around the joints and can protect from wear and tear.
- Use the right technique when, sitting, working and lifting can protect joints from daily strains and do protect the joints from any injury while its playing sports or due to an accident.
Can Arthritis be Healed?
The aim of treating arthritis is to minimize joints from damage, to slow down the progress of the disease and to maintain existing physical functioning. There are several treatment options as mentioned above like medication, surgeries, joint injections and a change in a lifestyle.
A combination of treatments may likely be required and can be changed over a period of time. This disease cannot be cured but effective treatment can help in managing.
If feeling stiffness and pain in the body or trouble moving, it might be arthritis. Various kinds of arthritis can cause joints pain and swell or even damage them.
Arthritis surely tests the patience level. It can change one’s life and standard of living, depending on how severe it is. It’s important to stay in touch with the doctor, stay positive and maintain the highest quality of life.