Arthritis Causes treatment picture

Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Arthritis is the condition causing inflammation and swelling of one or more joints. It can lead to the tenderness of the affected joints. The condition can cause joint pain and stiffness. You can suffer from mobility issues due to the inflammation of the joints. The condition worsens with age. Irrespective of age, race or sex, people can suffer from the inflammation of joints. The condition has no permanent cure. So, you can only manage it from progressing further and causing more damage by getting medical attention.

Know About Arthritis

Know About Arthritis

Arthritis refers to joint disorder. It causes inflammation in the area where your bones meet. A joint is essential for your body parts to move properly. In most cases, the inflammation accompanies pain in your joints (arthralgia). Inflammation to the joints is one of the rheumatic diseases. It is different for each person who suffers from it. So, the signs, features, complications, treatment, and prognosis differ from one person to another. The condition can affect the following parts:

  • Muscles
  • Joints
  • Cartilage
  • Ligaments
  • Tendons

In some cases, the problem can affect other body parts. You need treatment based on the type of condition you suffer. The treatment focuses on reducing the symptoms associated with the problem. So, it improves the quality of life.

Symptoms Of Arthritis

People suffering from the problem can suffer from several signs and symptoms. In most cases, the condition affects your joints, triggering signs like:

  • Joint pain
  • Swelling of joints
  • Stiffness
  • Redness in the affected area
  • A decrease in range of motion

Causes Of Arthritis

There are more than a hundred types of arthritis. Each type of problem has a specific cause. The most common types of condition that damages the joint in different ways are:

Osteoarthritis

It is the most common type of problem affecting people. The condition can result in the wear-and-tear of your cartilage. Cartilage is the smooth, hard elastic tissue coating the ends of the bone. It is the rubber-like padding covering the joints. It cushions the ends of the bone. Cartilage is also responsible for the frictionless joint motion. When it is damaged, it causes the bones of your joint to grind directly. It results in pain and movement restriction. You suffer from the problem due to a joint injury or infection. It is also possible to suffer from it due to wear and tear occurring over several years.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis affects the entire joint. The condition can cause changes to the bone structure. With no assistance, the condition can deteriorate the connective tissue. The connective tissues are responsible for attaching the muscle to your bone and holding together the joints. The condition results in the inflammation of the joint lining.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis

It is the problem occurring due to the attack on the joint capsule lining by the body’s immune system. The joint capsule lining is a tough membrane. It encircles all the joint parts. Due to the condition, the lining, also known as the synovial membrane suffers inflammation and swelling. Without medical assistance, the condition progresses and eventually, causes the destruction of the cartilage as well as the bone within the affected joint.

Risk Factors Associated With Arthritis

Some people are more at risk of developing the condition compared to others. The factors influencing the development of the problem are:

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. Your genes can make you more susceptible to environmental factors that may trigger arthritis.

Age

Your advancing age can put you at risk of joint swelling and inflammation. So, the problem is common among older people.

Your Sex

Your sex determines the chances of developing certain types of inflammation. Compared to men, women are more likely to develop certain types of joint inflammation like rheumatoid arthritis. While men suffer from other types of the problem (for example gout).

Prior Joint Injury

If you have suffered a previous joint injury, then you need to maintain caution. People who have suffered an injury while playing a sport or suffered trauma can develop arthritis in a specific joint.

Obesity

People carrying excess weight have increased risk of joint swelling and inflammation. The excess weight puts extra pressure on the joints of your knee, spine, and hips. If you have increased BMI (body mass index), then you may experience joint problems in the future.

Complications Due To Arthritis

Without treatment, arthritis can progress and lead to worse complications. In severe cases, the condition affects your arms or hands. So, it becomes difficult to complete your daily tasks. When you suffer inflammation of your weight-bearing joints, it can restrict your mobility. You will find it difficult to sit straight or walk properly. Some people experience deformity or twisting of their joints. So, never ignore the symptoms associated with the problem. With early intervention, you can prevent the worsening of the condition.

Diagnosing Arthritis

When you suffer from the symptoms associated with the joint problem, then you need to see a doctor immediately. The doctor can evaluate your condition and suggest treatment. With early diagnosis, you have better chances to prevent the problem from worsening.

Physical Exam

Your doctor performs a thorough physical assessment of the joints. The medical professional checks for redness, warmth, and swelling in your joints. Your ability to move the joints and the range of motion you possess also helps your doctor understand the severity of the problem. Based on the physical assessment, you may need other tests to detect the issue conclusively.

Laboratory Tests

Your doctor suggests some laboratory examinations. Examining the different types of body fluids can help detect the arthritis type you suffer. The fluids used to detect the precise issue are:

  • Joint fluid
  • Blood
  • Urine

You may know the standard procedure to get the urine and blood samples. The joint fluid is extracted after numbing the affected joint. The area is numbed and using a needle, the doctor withdraws some fluid for testing.

Imaging Tests

The imaging tests offer a clear picture of the joints. It helps detect the problem of the joint, which causes the symptoms. So, your doctor can suggest the following tests:

X-rays

X-rays

The x-rays use low levels of radiation to get a comprehensive picture of the bones and joints. The images can reveal bone spurs, bone damage, or cartilage loss. The x-rays do not help reveal the damage caused due to inflammation of the bone. But, it can track the disease progression.

Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan

Computerized Tomography takes x-rays from different angles of your affected joints. All the images are combined to gather the actual problem. So, by assessing the cross-sectional view of the internal structure of joints and surrounding tissues, your doctor detects the actual problem.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

It is a sophisticated imaging technique that uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed cross-sectional images. So, you use the MRI to detect the damages caused to soft tissues like ligaments, tendons, and cartilage.

Ultrasound

It is the diagnostic test offering images of your soft tissues, bursae (the structures containing fluid), and cartilage using sound waves. High-frequency sound waves are directed to the affected area to get a clear image. The imaging technique is also used by the doctors for the guidance of needle during injections or joint aspirations.

Treatment For Arthritis

You have no permanent cure available for alleviating pain and inflammation in your joints. The treatment only focuses on reducing the symptoms. With proper medical attention and care, you can slow the progress of the condition. One treatment may not prove effective for all affected people. So, you have to try different treatments or combinations of treatment to find a suitable one that works well for you. One-shot treatment may not work. So, you have to remain patient and undergo several sessions of the chosen treatment option to see any results. You may not experience positive results overnight. Therefore, remain patient to see changes. Your doctor can suggest the following treatment options:

Medications

Depending on the type of the condition, your doctor can suggest medication. The doctor can suggest the following medications:

Painkillers

Your doctor can prescribe painkillers to manage your pain. But, it does not affect inflammation. You can even opt for the over-the-counter option to get relief.

Opioids

Some people suffer from severe pain due to the inflammation of joints. In such cases, the doctor can prescribe opioids. Opioids can act on your central nervous system and block pain. But, you need to use the medication in moderation and must never use it continuously. When you use it for a long time, it becomes a habit. Habit-forming medication can lead to physical or mental dependence.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

You can take over-the-counter NSAIDs to stop the inflammation and pain after consulting the doctor. Medications like ibuprofen and naproxen are available easily. But, in some cases, you need prescription NSAIDs to relieve pain and discomfort associated with the condition. Oral NSAIDs have side effects like stroke or heart problems. Therefore, talk to your doctor about switching to the cream or gel option. You can rub it on the affected joints to get relief.

Counterirritants

Your doctor can prescribe creams and ointment containing capsaicin or menthol. The ingredients can interfere with the transmission of pain signals from your joints. So, rubbing creams or ointments containing the ingredients can offer you relief.

Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)

Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs can slow down or stop your immune system from attacking the joints. So, it is commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The medication can preserve your joints by preventing inflammation. If you fail to take medication, the inflammation starts destroying the joints as time progresses. It can reach a point when the joint can become misshapen and unusable. You need to understand that DMARDs are not medications to relieve pain. But, taking the medication can reduce the pain and tenderness in your joints. You need to wait for a couple of months for the benefits of the medication to kick in.

Biologic Response Modifiers

Your doctor uses biologic response modifiers in conjunction with DMARDs. The genetically engineered drugs target your protein molecules, which are involved in the immune response. It is a type of disease-modifying drug with anti-rheumatic qualities. So, it targets the specific part of your immune system response responsible for inflammation of joints. It can help relieve symptoms and improves your condition. There are many types of biologic response modifiers. But, your doctor prescribes TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor) inhibitors commonly. It is because the doctor has more experience working with the type of biologic response modifiers. Other medications can target other substances playing a role in inflammation.

Corticosteroids

It is a class of drugs that can suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation. The drugs include cortisone and prednisone, which you can take orally or the doctor can inject the medication directly into the affected joint.

Therapy For Arthritis

You can manage the symptoms associated with the condition by undergoing therapies. The combination of therapies and medication can offer much more relief compared to a single treatment option. So, the therapies offering relief from pain and other symptoms are:

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy refers to certain exercise movements. The exercise movements help improve the range of motion. It can also strengthen the muscles around the joints. The swelling and inflammation can weaken or damage the joints. So, physical therapy aims to reduce weakness and pain. The exercises reduce stiffness and enhance your mobility.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy focuses on improving your mobility to perform everyday activities. It is another form of therapy used to manage pain and other discomforts. When you undergo therapy, you can achieve better mobility. It offers you protection against the strain and further damage. You need to take the sessions offered by an occupational therapist to prevent joint pain from affecting your life.

TENS Therapy

TENS or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation therapy is a form of physical therapy. But, it uses small pulses of electricity to reduce the pain and inflammation caused by the condition. During the therapy, electrodes are placed on the specific joint triggering the pain. The electrical pulses targeted to the areas of pain can offer relief for a small time. The treatment offers results only temporarily.

Massage

Massage

You need to see a massage therapist. They increase the blood circulation in your joints to reduce pain and swelling., The professional can massage the area for relieving pain. By kneading and rubbing the joints as well as muscles, you can get relief from the inflammation and pain.

Surgery For Arthritis

When the conservative treatment options fail to offer relief, then you need invasive treatments to deal with the condition. The doctor can suggest surgery to reduce pain and inflammation. Therefore, your doctor can suggest the following options:

Joint Repair

The surgeon can smooth your joint surface or realign them. It reduces pain in the joints and improves the rage of motion. The joint repair is performed using arthroscopic procedures. The surgeon repairs the joint through small incisions over your affected joint.

Joint Replacement

As the name suggests, the surgery replaces your damaged joints with an artificial joint. The surgery is commonly used to replace knees and hips.

Joint Fusion

The surgery locks the ends of two bones in a joint and encourages healing into one joint. It is the procedure used for alleviating pain in smaller joints. So, a surgeon can opt for the procedure to manage pain and inflammation in the joints of your fingers, ankle, and wrist.

Lifestyle And Home Remedies

While medications can help manage the inflammation and swelling of your joints, you can also follow some steps at home. The lifestyle and home remedies can offer you relief. Combined with medical treatment, you can manage the problem with ease.

Weight Loss

People who are obese need to lose weight. Losing excess weight can reduce the stress on your joints, which bears the weight. The knees support your weight. So, the excess weight can cause put you at risk of injuries like stress fractures or other joint injuries. So, losing weight increases your mobility. It also limits other joint issues in the future.

Exercise

Include regular exercise in your routine. It can keep the excess stress in your joints. Including exercise also helps in increasing the flexibility of your joints. Exercise offers stability to your joints and protects them from further wear and tear. You can opt for water aerobics or swimming. It is a good choice as the water buoyancy reduces excess pressure from the weight-bearing joints.

Heat/Cold Therapy

You can use heating pads or ice packs on your joints. It relieves the pain caused due to inflammation of joints.

Assistive Devices

You must assistive devices. It can ease the stress off the weight-bearing joints. You can perform your daily tasks better using the following devices:

  • Walkers
  • Canes
  • Shoe Inserts

You must make some modifications in your home (like raised toilet seats) to protect the joints. It also improves your ability to complete daily tasks.

Prevent Arthritis

It is not possible to prevent arthritis. The family history, advancing age, or gender can lead to the swelling of joints. You cannot prevent the problem from occurring due to such conditions. But, you can take some steps to prevent the painful inflammation triggered by some types of the condition. You can prevent the loss of function and irreversible problems (like deformity) by following some steps:

Eat Fish

Eat Fish

You need to include fish, which contains omega-3 fatty acids to lower the risk of joint inflammation. Fish contains healthy polyunsaturated fat. It is beneficial for your health and prevents inflammation. So, eat fish at least twice a week to get benefits. Eat the following types of fish to get the desired results:

  • Trout
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Sardines

Avoid Injuries

As you age, the joints tend to wear out. So, you face the risk of injuring the joints while playing contact sports or suffer from trauma. Such incidents result in damage to the cartilage. It can lead to wear and tear of the joints. Therefore, take precautions to avoid any injury. Wear the necessary safety equipment before playing contact sports. You need to follow the correct exercise techniques to prevent any trauma.

Protect Your Joints

You need to follow the right techniques to protect the joints while performing everyday activities. So, you must follow the correct technique while sitting, lifting or working. Here are some pointers:

  • To avoid strain on the wrists, carry items close to the body.
  • Never lift or pick object using you back. Lift them with your hips and knees.
  • Ensure support for your back, arms, and legs when you sit for a long time. Without proper support, you can strain your joints.

Conclusion

No cure is available for arthritis. But, early intervention and medical assistance can reduce the symptoms. The condition is progressive. So, if you wait to seek treatment, it can lead to further destruction of your joint. With medical assistance and lifestyle changes, you can slow the progression of the inflammation and swelling of the joints. By following the advice from your doctor, you can prevent the worsening of the symptoms and preserve your mobility.

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