Arthritis Can Be More Complicated Than People Realize

main of Arthritis Can Be More Complicated Than People Realize

Arthritis refers to joint inflammation or tenderness. Arthritis causes this joint stiffness. Arthritis can affect all joints in the body, including fingers, knees, the hip, the shoulders, and the pelvis. Arthritis affects approximately 52.5 million adults in the United States. Additionally, with scientific and medical advancements causing an increase in the aging population, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) forecasts that the prevalence of arthritis as diagnosed by a doctor is set to increase marginally, with an approximated 78.4 million people expected to suffer from arthritis by the year 2040.

Whereas these may seem like grim statistics, a lot can reduce chances of suffering from arthritis. This includes:

  • Maintaining a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 25. This will involve proper nutrition and exercise
  • Avoid or stop smoking
  • Try as much as possible to avoid injuries while taking part in recreational activities or sports
  • Maintaining the correct sitting posture when typing or watching materials on the computer
  • Lifting, pushing, and pulling objects without straining the back or other joints
  • Regular hand and finger exercises to ensure proper circulation of synovial fluid within joints. Synovial fluid lubricates joints
  • Taking enough fluids. At least 0.5 gallons daily

Types of Arthritis

Contrary to the opinion of most people, arthritis is not one disease. Arthritis refers to a spectrum of conditions, and there are over 100 types of arthritis. All these types vary in causative agents and management options. The most prevalent classes of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Other arthritis types include:

  • Infectious arthritis including septic and Lyme arthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis arises from friction on the cartilage found at the joints. The cartilage wear and tear exposes the free nerve endings in bones resulting in joint pain. Wear and tear result from decreased levels of synovial fluid. Osteoarthritis is degenerative, worsening with age, but can also be due to injury. There are several risk factors of osteoarthritis that includes: 

  • Older age - aging causes natural cartilage deterioration
  • Being overweight increases the pressure exerted on the joints
  • Gender - osteoarthritis is more prevalent in women
  • Genetic make-up may increase the susceptibility of some people to osteoarthritis
  • Joint injury
  • Bone and cartilage deformities
  • Certain jobs that require repetitive continuous stress on the joints may increase the risk of osteoarthritis

Other than causing pain and stiffness, osteoarthritis also impacts life by causing:

  • Sleep disruption
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Weight gain
  • Reduced productivity
  • Bone death
  • Bleeding or joint infection
  • Stress fractures
  • Pinched nerve occurs when nerves are compressed when osteoarthritis affects the spine
  • Tendon and ligament deterioration around joints

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis has a prevalence rate second to osteoarthritis. In persons younger than 16 years of age, it is referred to as juvenile inflammatory arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes the body's immune system to attack joint tissue. A person with another autoimmune disease like Hashimoto's thyroiditis, lupus, or multiple sclerosis is at a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, mainly in the hands, characterize the disease.

Common Symptoms and Causes of Arthritis

Arthritis occurs due to:

  • Joint wear and tear is the major cause of osteoarthritis. Wear and tear leads to bone rubbing against bone, a very painful and restrictive movement occurrence
  • Inflammation occurs when the body's immunity attacks the membrane surrounding joints. The patients present with swollen joints, pain, fever, and appetite loss
  • Infection. Trauma to the joints or infection may advance arthritic progression. Reactive arthritis may be a consequence of chlamydial or fungal infection
  • Metabolic disorders. Certain people have high uric acid levels. Uric acid is produced from purine metabolism. Purines are derived from protein breakdown. Excess uric acid accumulates and crystallizes in joints, causing extreme sudden joint pain
  • Other causes like psoriasis, Sjogren's disease, and inflammatory bowel disease

Common arthritis symptoms are joint tenderness, joint stiffness, swelling, decreased range of motion, and redness around the joint. Patients will experience the worst symptoms when they wake up in the morning. For rheumatic arthritis, patients may become anemic or suffer from fever. Severe untreated rheumatic arthritis causes deformity.

Treating Arthritis

When experiencing any of the foremost mentioned symptoms, visit a primary care physician or a rheumatologist who will diagnose the disease. Medical treatments can be aimed at calming the symptoms, or at the underlying causes. The doctor may recommend physical therapy. Physical therapy improves the range of joint motion, increases muscle strength, and reduces pain.

Severe pain is managed surgically. Surgery is used to repair or replace damaged joints and includes joint replacement, bone fusion or realignment, and arthroscopic surgery. Home remedies to help deal with joint pain include taking lots of vitamin C, avocado extract, fish oil, and several other things. Early diagnosis of arthritis is the best way to manage it properly. Regular medical check-ups are a good starting point, especially for older people.

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