A very commonly known disease, yet hardly understood my most, Arthritis for starters is not a single disease. It is an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. Anyone can have it irrespective of the individuals' age, sex and race. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in America. More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis. It is most common among women and occurs more frequently as people get older.
Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. The symptoms that we are talking about, can be mild, moderate or severe. They may stay about the same for years but may get worse with time. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs. This disease can cause permanent joint changes.
How do you know you have it? You might have knobby finger joints, however, many times the damage can only be seen on X-ray. Did you know that some types of arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin as well as the joints?
Here are some types of arthritis for a better understanding.
Image courtesy: shutterstock.com
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. When the cartilage wears away, bone rubs against bone which causes pain, swelling and stiffness. Over time, joints can lose strength and pain may become chronic. The risk factors here include excess weight, family history, age and previous injury.
You can manage it by balancing activity with rest, using hot and cold therapies, regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, strengthening the muscles around the joint for added support and avoiding excessive repetitive movements.
A healthy immune system is protective. It generates internal inflammation to get rid of the infection and prevent disease. But, sometimes the immune system can go awry and mistakenly attack the joints with uncontrolled inflammation, causing joint erosion. This may even damage internal organs, eyes and other parts of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are examples of inflammatory arthritis.
In such cases, early diagnosis and aggressive treatment are critical. Slowing disease activity can help minimise or even prevent permanent joint damage. Here what we need is disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). This treatment reduces pain, improves function, and prevents further joint damage.
A bacterium, virus or fungus can enter the joint and trigger inflammation. The organisms that can infect joints are salmonella and Shigella (food poisoning or contamination), chlamydia and gonorrhoea (sexually transmitted diseases) and hepatitis C (a blood-to-blood infection, often through shared needles or transfusions). Most of the times treatment on time via antibiotics may clear the joint infection, but sometimes the arthritis becomes chronic.
Uric acid is formed as the body breaks down purines, a substance found in human cells and in many foods. Some people have high levels of uric acid because they naturally produce more than what is needed or the body is unable to get rid of the uric acid. In some people, the uric acid builds up and forms needle-like crystals in the joint, which results in sudden spikes of extreme joint pain, or a gout attack.
What we recommend is that you do not be your own doctor. If you feel it is affecting you? Kindly go to a doctor you know is good.