Know Your Pain – Arthritis

Arthritis, meaning joint inflammation (“arthr-” means joint; “-itis” means inflammation), is a disease or condition wherein you experience searing pain in your joints. It may be caused due to the inflammation that occurs around the joint, the daily wear and tear of the joint, muscle strains caused by forceful movements against stiff painful joints and fatigue.

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RISK FACTORS:

  1. Family history – Some types of arthritis run in families, so you may be more likely to develop arthritis if your parents or siblings have the disorder.
  2. Age – The risk of many types of arthritis — including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout — increases with age.
  3. Gender – Women are more prone to develop rheumatoid arthritis than men, while most of the people who have gout, another type of arthritis, are men.
  4. Previous joint injury – People who have injured a joint, perhaps while playing a sport, are more likely to eventually develop arthritis in that joint.
  5. Obesity. Carrying excess pounds puts stress on joints, particularly your knees, hips and spine making it a higher risk of developing arthritis. There are various types of arthritis, all of which have different causes and treatment methods, however osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the common ones.

TYPES:

  • Osteoarthritis – It is the most common type of arthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease. It occurs most often in knees, hips, lower back and neck, small joints of the fingers and the bases of the thumb and big toe. Osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage, which is a firm, slippery material covering the end of each bone, which acts as a cushion between bones and helps in the smooth gliding of the bones. When the cartilage wears away, the bones under it rub against each other, which causes severe pain, swelling, and loss of motion of the joint. Those with osteoarthritis experience stiffness in a joint after getting out of bed or sitting for a long time. There will also be swelling or tenderness in one or more joints and a crunching feeling or the sound of bone rubbing on bone.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – It is a chronic inflammatory disorder that typically affects the small joints in your hands and feet. In rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule, a tough membrane that encloses all the joint parts. This lining, known as the synovial membrane, becomes inflamed and swollen. The disease process can eventually destroy cartilage and bone within the joint. In addition to causing joint problems, rheumatoid arthritis sometimes can affect other organs of the body too.

SYMPTOMS:

  • The inability to use the hand or walk due to stiffness and difficulty moving the joint
  • Malaise and fatigue
  • Swelling
  • Weight loss
  • Poor sleep
  • Muscle aches and sudden searing pains
  • Warm, red, tender joints
  • Decreased range of motion

DIAGNOSIS:

To diagnose arthritis, your doctor will consider your symptoms, perform a physical exam to check for swollen joints or loss of motion, and use blood tests, X-rays, CT and Ultrasound scans to confirm the diagnosis. Blood tests help to make a diagnostics on the present condition, while the X-ray will show the bone damage. The scans also help to distinguish the type of arthritis you have. If you get diagnosed for arthritis, it is recommended to get immediate therapeutic procedures from a medical expert as timely measures can prevent further disintegration of the joints and pain.

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