Arthritis: Its Types, Causes, and Symptoms
Arthritis is a growing concern everywhere in the world; the amount of people developing this condition is increasing rapidly. Arthritis is a joint and bone condition where there is inflammation in the joints, causing pain and a loss of movement over time.
Anyone can develop this condition, although it is more common to see individuals above the age of 50 with it. Over time, arthritis deteriorates the cartilage between the bones that protects them from coming into contact with each other. When this happens, the bones grind against each other and break.
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Causes and Types of Arthritis
Cartilage is a very important part of the bones and joints because it protects bones from damage and helps with movement and flexibility. People with arthritis have damaged cartilage because of the expedited wearing and tearing the condition causes. When the cartilage is damaged, it cannot be repaired and the bones that were once protected rub against each other. This arthritis cause tears, lesions, and breaks.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and develops in older individuals with a family history of the disease. This common arthritis damages the joint cartilage, which is a hard and white coating between two bones (where a joint begins).
The second type of arthritis is not as common. This is called rheumatoid arthritis, which is an immune system condition where the immune system attacks the joints and the protective coating on them. The lining of the joints swells and becomes irritated.
Symptoms of Arthritis
Since there are two different types of arthritis, you would think that they have different arthritis symptoms. However, both types share the same symptoms but develop differently over time. If you have a suspicion that you may have arthritis, the common signs are:
- Frequent cracking of the bones
- Pain between the joints
- Trouble walking
- Loss of motion
- Loss of flexibility
- Weight gain from lack of exercise
- Red and inflamed joints
Diagnosis of Arthritis
There are a few ways to diagnose arthritis in adults. Typically, it starts with a general doctor’s appointment with your primary care physician. They will ask you questions and check your joints for any symptoms. After that, they may order some laboratory tests like imaging scans.
X-rays are the most common imaging tests that doctors will recommend if they believe you have arthritis. Radiation is used during x-rays, but it is a minimal amount and helps to visualize the bones and cartilage. Typically, x-rays cannot catch the early stages of arthritis but do a great job of revealing the progression of the joint condition.
Another common imaging test used is a CT scan. CT scans are very similar to x-rays, however, they are able to capture different angles that x-rays cannot. This allows for the CT scan to view the bones as well as the soft tissue that can be harmed because of arthritis.
There is a lot that goes into the diagnosis of arthritis. Arthritis can develop in any part of the body, making it hard for symptoms to become visible. For instance, the most common form of arthritis develops in the knees or wrists. However, there have been cases where people had arthritis on their hips and ribs.
How To Treat Arthritis
It is not easy to treat arthritis since there is technically no cure. There are, however, ways to reduce the swelling, inflammation, and other symptoms common in people with arthritis. Over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be great for relieving pain and reducing inflammation. You can find these in any pharmacy. Some common brands are Advil and Aleve.
There are also steroids, like prednisone, that reduce inflammation slowly. This does not cure the disease, as it will continue to progress, but it causes it to develop slower and, coupled with other remedies, can reduce pain levels. You should always consult your doctor, however, before taking something new.
Another treatment is surgery, but you should note that not everyone needs this treatment. Surgery should be a last resort as arthritis can develop again in the same spot. The most common surgery for repairing and relieving arthritis is joint replacement. If the joints are too damaged to fix, they may need to be replaced with an artificial joint. However, the condition can still come back.
How To Manage Arthritis
Although it is true that there is no cure for arthritis, this does not mean there aren’t ways to manage the symptoms. For instance, if you have arthritis in your legs and knees, you can invest in a walker to relieve pressure. There are also soles that you can add to your shoes to lower the tension and pressure, aiding in pain relief.
For people with joint pain in their wrists, they should frequently receive massages. Although the massages do not stop the progression, they do provide relief. Warm oils for sensitive skin may help as well.
There are some products that can help someone manage arthritis at home. These include easy-grip containers and utensils. Since the person’s movements are limited, they may struggle to pick things up (including small objects like utensils).
If you are looking into preventing arthritis, since it is mainly genetic, it is not always possible. However, you can try joint supplements with chondroitin as this nutrient has been linked with repairing and strengthening cartilage. Trauma to the joints can also cause arthritis, especially in people who participate in team sports. While there is nothing wrong with exercise, you should be careful not to push yourself too much.
Conclusions on Arthritis
Arthritis can affect the quality of someone’s life. However, it is not a life-threatening condition. It affects the joints and bones in someone’s body by deteriorating the cartilage that protects the bones over time. As the bones start to grind against each other with pressure, the pain worsens and so do the complications.
There is no exact cause for arthritis and it can affect anyone. However, older individuals are at a higher risk compared to people younger than 50. With the proper treatment and management techniques, people can live fully with arthritis.
- What are the early warning signs of arthritis? Typically, the early warning signs of arthritis include morning joint stiffness, swelling, tingling, and even fever.
- Can I recover from arthritis? Unfortunately not, there is currently no cure for arthritis, although treatment options have improved greatly in recent years.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!