Arthritis is a joint inflammation that causes swelling and tenderness of the joint. People with arthritis may experience joint pain and stiffness which usually become more severe by age. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are considered two of the most common arthritis.
Osteoarthritis leads to the breakdown of cartilage while rheumatoid arthritis is the result of the attack of the immune system to the joints which normally starts with the lining of joints. Gout is also one of the well known arthritis. It is caused by uric acid crystals that are over-contained in blood. Other types of arthritis such as lupus or psoriasis may be caused by infections or some other diseases.
Signs and symptoms of arthritis are varied from the types of arthritis. The common signs and symptoms may include:
- Limited range of motion
There are several types of arthritis. The causes of each type of arthritis are varied. The most two common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is caused by the damage of the joint's cartilage that functions as a cushion at the end of the bones. When the cartilage is deteriorated, the bones will grind to the other one. This can cause pain and may limit the movement. Prolonged deterioration may increase the risk of joint injury or infection. The changes in the bone and the deterioration of cartilage may cause the damage of the entire joint and lead to inflammation of the joint lining.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the cause of the attack of the body’s immune system to the lining of the joint capsule. This condition causes the lining to become inflamed and swollen. The cartilage and bones within the joint are occasionally destroyed as the disease processes.
The risk factors of arthritis may include:
- Age. The older people tend to have higher risk to get involved with the disease.
- Gender. There is the relationship between gender and each type of arthritis. Women seem to develop rheumatoid arthritis more than men. Meanwhile, gout and other types of arthritis tend to occur more in men.
- Family history. People whose family member has been involved with arthritis has a higher tendency of the disease.
- Previous joint injury. The risk of arthritis tends to be increased in the people who have experienced joint injury.
- Obesity. Overweight causes stress on joints especially in knees, hip and spine which also highers the risk of arthritis.
Severe arthritis may affect daily life especially if it occurs in the hands or arms. People with arthritis of weight-bearing joints may experience limitations of movement particularly while walking or sitting upright. There is a chance of deformation and twisting of joints in some cases.
The doctor may conduct a physical exam including checking for swelling joints, redness and warmth. The ability of joint movement is also investigated. To categorize the type of arthritis that the patient may get involved with, the doctor may suggest some tests including:
The body fluids including blood, urine and joint fluid may be collected to analyze the type of arthritis.
- Image tests
Various kinds of image tests may be used to investigate the cause of the symptoms. The tests may include:
- Computerized tomography or CT
- Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI
The doctor may prescribe medications depending on the type of arthritis. There are several kinds of the medications to treat arthritis including:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs or DMARDs
- Biologic response modifiers
- Physical Therapy
To improve the range of motion and strengthen the muscles around the joints, physical therapy such as some exercises may be recommended.
The doctor may suggest surgery to the patients who do not respond to other treatments. The surgery may include:
- Joint repair
- Joint replacement
- Joint fusion
Lifestyle and home treatment
The symptoms of arthritis may be relieved from changing lifestyle and home treatment including:
- Weight loss
- Heat and cold press
- Assistive devices
Preparing for your appointment
Before your appointment, you may make a list that includes:
- Descriptions of your symptoms in details
- Information about the medical difficulties you have had experienced in the past
- Information about the medical difficulties of your family members
- All the medications and dietary supplements taken
- Other questions you would like to ask the doctor
During the consulting, the doctor may ask you some questions including
- When did the symptoms begin?
- Does activity cause the pain better or worse?
- What joints are in pain?
- Has any of your family members been involved with joint pain?