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Arthritis

Overview

Arthritis is a common joint disorder that causes pain and inflammation in the joints, hindering a person’s movement and his/her ability to stay active. A joint connects two bones together and gives a person the ability to move freely. Arthritis affects this function as it causes joint inflammation due to which a person loses the ability to move at ease. There are a number of forms and types of arthritis. Each form of arthritis causes different types of arthritis symptoms and the severity of those symptoms depends on what kind of arthritis a person suffers from and in what part of the body it is causing arthritis pain. There are nearly 100 types of arthritis but the most common types are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Arthritis is most common amongst older adults, but it can also develop in men, women, and children of any age. In the US alone 54.4 million adults are diagnosed with arthritis amongst which 23.5% were women and 18.1% were men.

 

Causes

Arthritis is not just caused due to a single reason. The reason for each form and type of arthritis varies. You may develop arthritis if you:

  • If you have a family history of arthritis.
  • An abnormal metabolism that leads to gout
  • An injury that leads to degenerative arthritis
  • Immune system dysfunction

To highlight the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, these two are caused by two different reasons. Osteoporosis can be inherited and it can also be caused due to the wear and tear of joints and bones. An injury or infection in the joints can lead to the depletion of cartilage tissues, which are responsible for absorbing pressure created when you move or put stress on your joints. This can lead to you developing osteoporosis.

As for rheumatoid arthritis, it is caused due to an autoimmune disorder. It occurs when your immune system attacks the body tissue. It affects the synovium, which is responsible for the lubrication of the joint by nourishing the cartilage tissue.

Symptoms

The symptoms of arthritis and the severity of those symptoms depend on the types of arthritis an individual is suffering from. The joint discomfort is maybe recurring, or it could stay constant. Common symptoms of arthritis include:

 

Diagnosis

If you are exhibiting some symptoms and conditions  due to which you may suspect that you have arthritis, see your preventive care physician  immediately. They will ask about your symptoms and check the severity of your pain. Your primary care doctor will then perform a physical exam, which may include:

  • Checking for fluid around the joints and tenderness and swelling
  • The overall motion of your legs and hands
  • Check the warmness and redness of the joint
  • Your overall health to determine which condition could be causing your symptoms

Treatment

The treatment for arthritis  mainly revolves around reducing the pain caused by the disease and preventing any further damages to the joints. As the treatment will go along you and your physician will eventually understand what is working for you in terms of subsiding the pain. For some people ice packs or heating pads provide comfort. People who suffer from arthritis are often seen using mobility assistance devices, like walkers or canes, to help take pressure off sore joints.

For your physician, one of the most important things would be to improve your joint function. Your doctor may prescribe you a combination of treatment methods to achieve the best results. 

A number of different types of medication treat arthritis:

  • Analgesic helps in managing the pain but it is not that effective when it comes to decreasing inflammation or swelling. 
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help in both pain management and joint inflammation. 
  • Menthol or capsaicin creams help in blocking the transference of pain signals from your joints.
  • Immunosuppressants can help reduce inflammation.

When To See A Doctor

If you are experiencing any sudden swelling in the joint which does not go away, or if suddenly your joints are becoming too painful to be touched, you should see a primary care physicians.

If you have a family history of arthritis, the medical physicians getting yourself checked as soon as you exhibit any kind of symptoms. The sooner you get the treatment for arthritis, the better the outcome will be.  

 

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