Arthritis

arthritis patient

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of arthritis

Every other person we daily come across is affected by some or the other form of ailment, which may vary from temporary to a more chronic type.But the past decade has witnessed a steady rise in the count of patients suffering from “arthritis”. This is the most severe and insidious form of a disease that cripples a person both physically and mentally, draining the basic ingredients of “healthy living” off the patient’s body.

The conventional notion about arthritis associates it with senility (old age). But recent findings clearly reveal that teens and even small children can be equally victimized by this pathological disorder. About 3,00,000 children have been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis in the past year. Coming to adults, women face these problems more often (26%) than men (21%).

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a pathological condition of acute inflammation of joints along with muscular stiffness. It is usually accompanied by severe joint pain and swelling of joints. It accounts for a large percentage of all diseases that impacts the very existence of a person.

What are the main causes of arthritis?

arthritis treatmentArthritic pain may occur in any part of the body like knee joints, ankle, wrists, fingers, neck and shoulder joints. Following are the primary causes of arthritis:

  • Abnormal degradation of the synovial fluid present in knee joints, that leads to increased friction between cartilages and subsequent swelling
  • Excessive corrosion of cartilage tissue (acts as a buffer against external pressure and shock) results in reduced protection against external agents
  • Infection and inflammation, causing subsequent degradation of cartilage tissues (due to harmful chemicals released at the site of injury)
  • Degradation of synovium tissue due to attack by the immune system of the body (auto-immune attack), leading to inadequate lubrication
  • Environmental factors like prior injury, serious infection, smoking and over-exhaustive physical activities
  • Genetic factors like parental history
  • Certain inflammation-evoking food ingredients like artificial fats, processed meat, refined carbohydrates, alcohol

What are the main signs and symptoms?

Arthritic symptoms are quickly noticeable and detectable but unfortunately not curable at an equal pace. The typical signs and symptoms that mark arthritis are-

  • Pain, stiffness, and swelling of joints
  • Reddish appearance around the joint area
  • Difficulty in walking and normal joint movements
  • Touch sensitivity of joints
  • Recurrent stiffness in the morning
  • Trouble maintaining normal body postures due to pain in pivotal, hinge and gliding joints
  • Deformation of limbs at a later stage
  • Immobile and stiff joints (also called ankylosed joints) due to complete degeneration of the cartilage tissue
  • Restricted motion of different body parts due to joint swelling
  • Bulge formation (rare occurrence)
  • Fever, weakness, and loss of appetite

Types of arthritis

arthritis symptomsAs menacing as it might sound, arthritis manifests itself in different forms, irrespective of age group and gender. The following types are usually observed-

Rheumatic arthritis: This variant affects multiple joints simultaneously and is mainly caused due to the anomalous functioning of the immune system. Excessive inflammation of inner linings of joints occurs, resulting in joint swelling and even deformities in extreme cases. It mostly occurs in wrist joints and joints in the proximity of fingers.   

Osteoarthritis: This is the most common form of arthritis and occurs mainly in females approaching senility. It is also known as “wear and tear” arthritis. In this case, the cartilage-bone becomes corroded and degenerates rapidly. After a certain time, the lower bone protrudes and creates visible bulges (nodules) around the joint.

In extreme cases where the bones are completely bared, friction between two bones causes excruciating ligament pain. Osteoarthritis occurs mostly in pelvic regions, hips, knees, vertebra, and limbs.     

Fibromyalgia: Occurs mainly at the tender and sensitive points causing painful and stiff muscles, ligaments, and tendons. It affects regions of neck, shoulder, back, limbs, and hips. The patients suffer from muscle pain, fatigue, morning stiffness, and headaches. Their sleep cycle is disrupted permanently. Though this is strictly not a type of arthritis per say, however, the symptoms of this condition resemble those of inflammatory arthritis.

Gout: This condition is caused by the formation of uric acid crystals (due to accumulated uric acid that fails to pass through urine) at the joint regions. The blood and tissue level uric acid concentration becomes very high and attacks regions like an elbow, bottom of big toe, knees, fingers, and wrists. It causes swollen and reddish joints that take a few days to return to normal state.                              

Ankylosing Spondylitis: Here fusion of joints occur via bones, and movement is restricted due to extreme stiffening of joints, affecting especially the sacrum and the saccharolytic joint. The inflammation gradually spreads to the vertebral joints as well, leading to extreme back pain and stiffness (especially in the morning).           

Psoriatic arthritis: This is an autoimmune disorder. It occurs in patients who already have a genetic disease called “Psoriasis”. The main characteristics are reddish patches, joint inflammation, and pain. Plaque formation occurs in large portions of the skin in these patients. A rare condition occurs in some of these arthritic patients. The tendons that surround the painful joints may exhibit acute inflammation. This condition is called- “enthesitis”.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: This is yet another variation of arthritis with inflammation, where the immune system of the body malfunctions and begins to attack the joints (auto-immune attack). Lupus is observed mainly in young women. It attacks healthy cells and tissues of joints, lungs, kidneys, brain and blood vessels, followed by extreme swelling and recurrent stiffness.       

Juvenile arthritis: Arthritis in children occurs as early as the age of 15, causing inflammation of 4 or more joints, that lasts for 5-6 weeks.

What is the genetic connection?

arthritis causesArthritis has a strong connection with heredity.

Families having arthritic trends across generations are likely to expect arthritis in the future generations as well.

This holds true, especially for Rheumatic Arthritis. The primary genes participating in the inheritance of this trend are :

  • HLA-DRB1 gene and its variants
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase 22 gene (PTPN22) closely associated with autoimmune diseases

Diagnosis

Doctors recommend a set of diagnostic tests for the arthritic patients. This section presents a list of the important laboratory tests-

  • Blood test (applicable mainly for rheumatoid arthritis)
  • X-rays (to detect the presence of swollen joints)
  • Digital radiography
  • MRI scan
  • CT scan
  • Synovial fluid analysis (to detect the presence of bone fragments in the synovial space; best test for gout)

Treatment & Prevention

There are more than a 100 different types of arthritic conditions and the treatment and management method for each is different. There are no certain ways through which you can prevent the onset of arthritis. There is no arthritis-friendly diet per say except in case of gout, which remains largely affected by the diet of the individual. Food rich in omega-3 fatty acids (non-inflammatory in nature) can help in improving the condition. Red meat, shellfish, alcohol, and fructose-containing foods worsen gout pain.  Generally, the treatment procedure for arthritis includes physiotherapy, exercises, wearing splint, painkiller drugs, home remedies, and in extreme cases, surgical intervention.

Osteoarthritis patients can observe significant improvement in their condition by maintaining a healthy weight. Smoking is a strict no-no for patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Non-weight bearing exercising routines such as swimming and using hot-cold packs on the affected joints can also help alleviate the arthritic pain.

Arthritis is a matter of grave concern in every country since it devastates adults and children equally. Even the strongest medications prove to be futile if a critical stage is reached. Doctors recommend physiotherapy as a precautionary measure for people who have arthritis running in their families. Awareness related to arthritis needs to be spread sincerely so that every other person prone to arthritis can take measures in time and save the world from the wrath of the disease.

Facts

  • There is not just one single type of arthritis; there are more than 100 different types of arthritis that can affect human body such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis etc.
  • A diet high in Omega 6 fatty acids will eventually lead to arthritis flare-ups. Omega 3 fatty acids control bodily inflammations.

Facts

  • Arthritis is more common among females than in males.
  • It is second to only cardiac issues as the leading cause of work disability. More than 50% of arthritis patients are under the age of 65.

Facts

  • Arthritis is found among children too. It is termed as juvenile arthritis and can take the form of rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, or lupus.
  • More than 54 million Americans are currently diagnosed with arthritis. That’s almost 1 in every 3 individuals suffering from some form of arthritis.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Keep your joints moving freely and practice right posture.
  • Manage your body weight. Maintain a healthy BMI.
  • Quit tobacco consumption (smoking /chewing) as it worsens joint aches.
Don'ts
  • High impact repetitive exercises such as jogging or jumping.
  • Frequent consumption of over-the-counter pain medications.
  • Lead a highly sedentary lifestyle. Be physically active but don’t overindulge.

 

 

 

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Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
dandelion weight loss
Caralluma Fimbriata: How to eat this cactus to lose weight Caralluma fimbriata is a miracle cactus that can be safely consumed by most for losing weight and boosting…
Coffee Enema: Turn your favorite morning beverage into a powerful colon cleanser The wonders of coffee are not just limited to waking you up every morning. You can now use…
Atkins diet weight loss
Atkins Diet: The right steps to carb control that can help you lose those pounds fast The Atkins diet is a high fat, low-carb diet with proven weight loss benefits that is flexible enough…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
chloride test
Chloride Test A chloride test of the blood checks the level of chloride in body, an important factor governing the…
complement c4 test
Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
Optavia diet
The features of an Optavia diet The Optavia diet endorses pre-packaged meals and snacks called "fuelings" that are tasty, low in calorie, and incorporates…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
Love tea, hate tannins? Rooibos tea is just what you need The market is brimming with a multitude of herbal teas. But what makes rooibos tea (or red bush)…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
valproic acid test
Valproic Acid Test Valproic acid test is performed to generally check for psychiatric and even neurological conditions such as bipolar disease…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
sodium blood test
Blood Sodium Test A blood sodium test measures the amount of sodium (an important electrolyte) in your body. It is also…
Coconut sugar: What is it and is it healthier than table sugar? In the long list of things that the wonderful coconut gives us, coconut sugar is another remarkable addition.…
Mood swings
The real reasons for your mood swings and how to overcome them Are you prone to heated moods frequently? Do you also feel bouts of depressive feeling creeping up on…
Quinine: How gin and tonic came to be known as a potent health elixir The discovery of quinine-containing tree bark is sometimes considered the most serendipitous medical discovery of the 17th century.
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
C-Reactive Protein Test A CRP or c-reactive protein blood test is an important diagnostic tool used to determine the risk of…
ANTIPHOSPHOLIPIDANTIBODY(APL)_IgG
Antiphospholipid (APL) antibody-IgG The Antiphospholipid Antibody testing is a blood test used to determine an autoimmune disorder called Antiphospholipid syndrome linked…
Strep throat pain
Anti-Streptolysin-O Test The ASO or Anti-Streptolysin-O is a blood test designed to check for the presence of streptococcus bacterial infection…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…