Arthritis is a very painful disease that affects people as they grow old. Characterized by the inflammation of joints, it’s a disease that has more than 100 forms and according to experts, it’s found more in women than men. Though it’s true that it is found largely in old people, that does not mean children, teens and adults are immune to this condition. In short, it affects anyone at any point in time, but it’s extremely common in old people.
And since there are over 100 types of arthritis, their treatment is based largely on their causes and symptoms. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) are the two most common types of arthritis that affect a large number of people across the world. There are several underlying causes of arthritis and it’s important for patients that they take right treatment which can address the root cause of their problem.
Without professional help, it’s extremely difficult to figure out whether the pain that you are feeling in your joints stem from arthritis or due to some other reason. So, if you are experiencing pain in your joints for more than a few months now, you definitely need to consult a doctor.
Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis
The signs and symptoms start appearing with the passage of time. However, in some cases, they do appear suddenly. Pain and stiffness in joints, feeling discomfort while moving and swelling are some of the most common signs of arthritis. In addition to that, one may also experience redness of skin surrounding the affected joint. Though it’s true that all these signs and symptoms can also be caused by some other problems, but people suffering from arthritis also experience them. In many cases, arthritis patients find that their symptoms are more aggressive in the morning.
Arthritis can affect any joint in your body such as shoulders, hips, knees, and elbow etc.
A Brief Description of Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA)
Osteoarthritis, which is one of the most common types of arthritis is caused by the damage to cartilage, which is a protective tissue that safeguards joints. To understand, how osteoarthritis is caused it’s important for you to understand what exactly is a joint. Well, a joint is nothing but a body part which is formed when two or more bones come together to support your body.
When two bones come together they are protected by cartilage, which is a tissue that resists all the pressure that’s thrown on joints, thereby keeping them safe. It also works as a cushion between two bones, which prevents them from rubbing against each other. However, when this protective tissue breaks down due to any reason, it starts affecting the bones, which eventually leads to Osteoarthritis. Yes, when the cushion between the bones starts disappearing slowly, it creates a condition wherein bones start rubbing against each other, which lead to pain and stiffness in joints.
Also known as a degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis is very common in older people. However, it also affects adults as well as children. It is believed that over 30 million people are affected by Osteoarthritis in the United States alone.
Apart from torn cartilage, osteoarthritis is also caused by dislocated joints and ligament injuries. Obesity, poor posture and joint malformation also lead to osteoarthritis.
There are several risk factors for osteoarthritis which include gender and family history. Osteoarthritis can occur anywhere in any joint of your body. Hands, fingertips, knees, hips, and spine etc., are some of the most common areas in your body that get affected by osteoarthritis. The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis include increased pain, enormous swelling and inflammation, joint instability, and decreased range of motion.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Considered as an autoimmune disease, Rheumatoid arthritis is another very common form of arthritis. The reason Rheumatoid arthritis is known as an autoimmune disease is that during this condition joint tissues are attacked by the immune system. The attacks also affect a variety of other organs in the joints.
There are several symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis such as joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. However, according to experts it generally starts in the fingers and wrists. Apart from that it also affects ankles, neck, elbows, shoulders, knees, and jaw etc. And what’s really very uncommon about this condition is that it’s generally symmetrical, which means people who struggle with rheumatoid pain in their left hand, will also experience it in their right hand. It is one of the most important factors that distinguish this condition from osteoarthritis.
It’s true that joint pain remains the most common sign of RA but according to experts in many cases, patients experience fever and fatigue before they struggle with pain. However, symptoms such as high fever and fatigue don’t always indicate Rheumatoid arthritis. It means a person could experience them because of any other reason as well. Rheumatoid nodules are another important sign of rheumatoid arthritis. They are nothing but hard lumps that appear on the skin.
Dry mouth and burning, itching and sensitive eyes are other important signs of rheumatoid arthritis.
Treatment for Arthritis
Medications & Surgery
One of the most important thing that you should understand is, arthritis can’t be treated completely. Most of the treatment options that you seek to deal with your problem focus on reducing the pain and discomfort caused by it. You can consult a doctor and take medications for it and Analgesics like acetaminophen and hydrocodone help in reducing arthritis pain. However, it’s very important for you to understand that these medicines do not reduce inflammation. Yes, they are used just for managing pain. In addition to that, you can also take Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs to reduce your pain.
Common NSAIDs which are taken by the patients include salicylates and ibuprofen. Although you can use these medicines to reduce pain, make sure that you do not take them frequently because they are not that good for your blood.
People who struggle with severe arthritis pain should seek surgical treatments to recover from it.
According to experts, physical therapy is one of the best ways to mitigate the pain that’s caused by arthritis. Most of the times, when you consult a physical they only ask you to take the help of a physical therapist to manage the arthritis pain without making use of drugs and surgical methods. Physical therapy is a kind of treatment, wherein a therapist uses unique techniques to reduce pain and swelling, and to accelerate the natural healing process of the body. Depending on the severity of your illnesses they include different types of physical therapy techniques in your treatment plan. For example, they may try to increase your flexibility and reduce pain by using taking the support of therapeutic exercises.
Yes, they include a lot of low-impact exercises in your treatment plan to heal your pain and to improve your flexibility. In addition to that, they may also use techniques like massage therapy and aquatic therapy to reduce your pain and increase your flexibility, which eventually helps in improving your mobility.
Each part of your body must remain healthy, otherwise, you won’t be able to live a pain-free life. According to Synergy Rehab Inc., “Bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and blood vessels must all work in harmony, or be in synergy, to help us do the activities in life that matter most, whether it is picking up and comforting a crying baby or running a marathon.”
So, if you want to improve the quality of your life, make sure that you pain necessary attention to your body to stay away from a disease like arthritis.