Arthritis

The condition known as arthritis can be described as a joint inflammatory disease affecting one or more joints. Arthritis presents in various forms such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The former results in inflammation due to wear of cartilage at the ends of bones while the latter occurs due to an autoimmune disease that affects the entire body. This condition usually causes lots of pain, disability and affects adults mostly but sometimes even children. It gets worse with age, and the older generation is the most affected.

Arthritis Symptoms

Arthritis affects the joints. Osteoarthritis results in the breakdown of cartilage. On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis is described as an autoimmune disease which also affects the joints but other body parts as well. Most symptoms of this condition will, therefore, involve the joints. Some of the symptoms that manifest in patients include

  • Swelling of the joints
  • Stiff joints
  • Decreased mobility and range of motion
  • Redness
  • Weak muscles
  • Affected areas tend to be tender
  • A grating sound during movement

Arthritis Causes

There are many different causes of arthritis. Below, you will find a list of several main causes.

  • Osteoarthritis is by far the most common kind. This type of arthritis is usually caused due to the wear and tear of cartilage with age. This means as people age, there is wear and tear around the joints. This is more prevalent in the joints that carry a lot of weight especially the knees, spine and hip. Other joints may also show some symptoms and they include shoulders and wrists depending on how much they have been worked over the years.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is usually caused due to a failure by the body’s own immune system. Basically, the linings of the joints swell and invade surrounding tissue. This lining is referred to as the synovial membrane and it becomes very inflamed and swollen. Many parts of the body are affected by this condition including the spine as well as large and smaller joints.

Arthritis Diagnosis

Doctors usually undertake a careful evaluation of patients in order to come up with a definite diagnosis. The process will involve evaluation of symptoms, a physical exam, tests and others.

  • The physical exam involves checking the joints for redness, inflammation and swelling. Mobility of the joints is also checked.
  • Sometimes lab tests of body fluids will be recommended in order to confirm the diagnosis of arthritis. Joint fluid can be withdrawn using a needle for testing.
  • Imaging is sometimes necessary. Imaging techniques mostly recommended by health practitioners include x-rays, CT scans and MRI Scans.
  • An ultrasound of the affected area can be taken and in some cases the use of an arthroscopy may be recommended. This is equipment used to check for damage at various joints.

Arthritis Treatment

The two most popular forms of treatment for arthritis are medication and physical therapy. Below you will find more information on treating arthritis.

  • In many occasions, doctors recommend medication to relieve the pain as well as reduce the inflammation.
  • The treatment normally focuses on relieving symptoms as well as improving joint mobility.
  • Some patients may need more medication and treatment depending on the severity of the condition.
  • Common medications used include anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics, corticosteroids and many others.
  • In certain instances, the use of physical therapy may be necessary.
  • Exercises are highly recommended as they tend to help improve mobility.
  • Injection of joint fluid or hyaluronic acid does help a lot in lubricating affected joints.
  • In a few cases, surgery is recommended if all other treatments do not seem to work.