Joint Inflammation (Arthritis): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

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Joint Inflammation (Arthritis): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Arthritis is an inflammation of joints causing pain and stiffness that worsens with age. In some types of arthritis other organs are also affected.Beginning of symptoms can be gradual or sudden.

The most common forms of arthritis include osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs with age and affects the fingers, knees, and hips whereas rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that affects the hands and feet. Other types of arthritis include gout, lupus, fibromyalgia, and septic arthritis.

Osteoarthritis affects more than 3.8% of people while rheumatoid arthritis affects about 0.24% of people globally. Overall the disease becomes more common with age and is a common reason that people miss work and can result in a decreased quality of life.More than 10 million cases per year are reported in India.

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How does Arthritis affect your body?

Different types of arthritis can affect the body in different ways, but commonly the joints are damaged. Bone, cartilage, and other tissues in the joints may be broken down and sometimes when new tissue grows in, the joints can become enlarged. Any joint can be affected but commonly-affected joints include knees, hips, wrists, hands, and spine. Over time, rheumatoid arthritis can lead to joint dislocation or disfiguration and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can affect the eyes, and if left untreated, it can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, and blindness. Other types of arthritis may lead to pain and loss of strength in and around the joint.

What are the causes of Arthritis?

Cartilage is a firm but flexible connective tissue in the joints that protects the joints by absorbing the pressure and shock created while moving or putting stress on them. A reduction in the normal amount of this cartilage tissue cause arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis which is caused by normal wear and tear of joints. Whereas rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system affect the synovium fluid surrounding the joint.

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What are the risk factors of Arthritis?

Family history-If your blood relatives had/have arthritis then it increases the risk of arthritis. Also genes can make you more susceptible to environmental factors that may trigger arthritis.

Age– The risk of arthritis including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout increases with age.

Sex– Women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, while most of the people who have gout, another type of arthritis, are men.

Previous joint injury-If ever injured a joint, perhaps while playing a sport, you are more likely to eventually develop arthritis in that joint.

Obesity-Extra-weight puts stress on joints, particularly on knees, hips and spine. Thus obese people have a higher risk of developing arthritis.

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What are the symptoms of Arthritis?

Pain, however is the most common system in almost all types of arthritis while othersymptoms are swelling, joint stiffness and aching around the joint.

Arthritic disorders like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can affect other organs in the body, leading to a variety of symptoms including:

  • Inability to use the hand or walk
  • Stiffness; may be worse in the morning
  • Malaise and fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Poor sleep
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Tenderness
  • Difficulty moving the joint

Arthritic symptoms include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of flexibility
  • Decreased aerobic fitness

How is Arthritis diagnosed?

Arthritis at first is clinically diagnosed by a health care professional by looking at symptoms. Rheumatoid arthritis is usually worse in the morning and is associated with stiffness lasting over 30 minutes. Osteoarthritistends to be associated with morning stiffness which eases relatively quickly with movement and exercise.

Further tests are sudden to confirm which type of arthritis is affecting:

Screening blood tests-Blood test is indicated for certain arthritislike rheumatoid arthritis to look for rheumatoid factor, antinuclear factor (ANF), extractable nuclear antigen, and specific antibodies.

X-rays– This is to diagnose osteoarthritis, typically revealing a loss of cartilage, bone spurs, and in extreme cases, bone rubbing against bone.

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How to prevent & control Arthritis?

  • Weight– Losing weight is a great way to lower risk of osteoarthritis.
  • Exercise-Exercise helps in losing weight and add strength to muscles which can prevent arthritis.
  • Hot and cold-Using ice and heat treatments for any minor joint pain can help relieve pain and swelling.
  • Treat injuries– Joint injury can increase the risk;taking more precautions when exercising and using proper equipment can help decrease the risk.
  • Walking devices– To limit joint pain, things like canes and walkers can be valuable and can make daily tasks easier while taking pressure off your joints.
  • Diet– A healthy diet will help lose weight, and nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D may reduce the risk.

Treatment of Arthritis- Allopathic Treatment

Treatment vary depending on the type of arthritis and includes physical therapy, lifestyle changes, orthopedic bracing, and medications.

Physical therapy– Physical exercise of the affected joint can improve long-term pain relief. Exercise of the affected joint is encouraged to maintain the health of the particular joint and the overall body of the person.

Occupational therapy– This therapy can provide assistance with activities. It uses tool to aid a person’s disability by reducing their physical barriers by improving the use of their damaged body part, typically after an amputation.

Medications used:

Acetaminophen (paracetamol) – It is the first-line treatment for osteoarthritis.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – NSAIDs like ibuprofen are prescribed for inflammatory arthritis.

Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)– It is prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis in addition to pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs. DMARDs like methotrexate act on the immune system to slow down the progression of RA.

Surgery

Arthroscopic surgery– This surgery is for osteoarthritis of the knee provides no additional benefit to optimized physical and medical therapy.

Treatment of Arthritis- Homeopathic Treatment

  • Aconitum napellus– This may be helpful for pain and inflammation that comes on suddenly after exposure to cold wind and weather.
  • Arnica– This is prescribed for chronic arthritis with bruised soreness.
  • Belladonna– This is indicated for sudden flare-ups of arthritis with a sensation of heat and throbbing pain.
  • Bryonia– This relieves joint pain caused by staying immobile and applying pressure.
  • Calcarea phosphorica– This help in relieving stiffness and soreness of the joints, worse from drafts and cold.
  • Ledum palustre– Arthritis that starts in lower joints and extends to higher ones is treated with this remedy.
  • Pulsatilla– This is prescribed for pain that moves unpredictably from one joint to another.
  • Rhustoxicodendron– This remedy relieves muscular and articular pains at the beginning of motion, and then improved by slow motion.
  • Apismellifica– This relieves swollen joints with itching and stinging pain, relieved by cold compresses.
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Arthritis- Lifestyle Tips

  • If obese or over-weight, losing weight will reduce the stress on your weight-bearing joints.
  • Regular exercise help keep joints flexible.
  • Applying heating pads or ice packs may help relieve arthritis pain.
  • Assistive devices like cane, walker, raised toilet seats and other assistive devices can help protect joints and improve your ability to perform daily tasks.

What are recommended exercise for person with Arthritis?

  • Range-of-motion exercises like raising arms over the head or rolling shoulders forward and backward, daily for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Strengthening exercises like weight training in alternative days a week.
  • Swimming and water aerobics for an hour, every week for 2 or 3 times.
  • Low-impact aerobic exercises like walking, bicycling for up to 150 minutes per week.

Arthritis& pregnancy- Things to know

  • Having arthritis won’t affect the ability to get pregnant but certain medications can affect the unborn child.
  • Continue doing exercise during pregnancy including range-of-motion exercises as well as exercises that will helpmaintain muscle strength.
  • It was studied that rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of preeclampsia condition in which a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure and possibly excess protein in her urine. This can be a life-threatening condition for both mother and baby.
  • Pregnant women with RA are also at increased risk of other complications when compared with women who do not have RA.

Common complications related to Arthritis

Arthritis affecting hands or arms, can make it difficult to do daily tasks.

Arthritis of weight-bearing joints can make walking and sitting up straight difficult and uncomfortable. While in some cases, joints may become twisted and deformed.


FAQs

Question:Are people with arthritis more likely to develop complications from the flu?

Answer: Some forms of inflammatory arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus cause immune systems to get weak, whichmore likely develop complications from the flu.

Question:  Can children get arthritis?

Answer: Yes; most common type of arthritis found in children is juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), also known as childhood arthritis or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Question: What should I do if I have pain when I exercise?

Answer: Try switching from walking to water aerobics anddo proper warm-up and cool-down before and after exercise.


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