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Arthritis is a form of joint disorder that induces inflammation in one or more joints. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in which Osteoarthritis causes breakdown in cartilage tissues and Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that targets the lining of joints. Uric acid crystals in body, infections or underlying disease such as psoriasis or lupus, can cause other types of arthritis. The main goal of arthritis treatment is to improve the quality of life by reducing the symptoms. The major complaint seen in Arthritis individuals is joint pain.
The causes for the most common types of Arthritis are as follows:-
- Wear and tear damage to joint's cartilage which is a hard coating on the ends of bones.
- Enough damage to cartilage joint tissues can result in bone grinding.
- Joint injury or infection.
- The body's immune system starts attacking the joint capsule lining.
- The synovial membrane becomes inflamed and swollen.
- Destroyed cartilage and bone within the joint.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS -
- Pain, stiffness, swelling, redness and decreased range of motion
- Malaise and a feeling of tiredness
- Muscle ache and weakness
- Tenderness and difficulty in moving the joints
- Weight loss
- Poor sleep and difficulty in flexibility
- Laboratory tests - The different types of body fluids such as blood, urine and joint fluid are analyzed to understand the type of arthritis.
- X-rays - It can show cartilage loss and bone damage and often used to track progression of the disease.
- Computerized tomography (CT) - CT scanners combine the information by taking X-rays from many different angles to create cross-sectional views of internal structures. Both bone and the surrounding soft tissues can be visualized by this.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - Cross-sectional images of soft tissues such as cartilage, tendons and ligaments can be produced by MRI for effective results.
- Ultrasound - High-frequency sound waves are used to visualize soft tissues and cartilage. It is also used to help in needle placement for joint injections.
- Arthroscopy - An arthroscope is a small and flexible tube which is inserted through an incision near joints. This process can transmit images from joint inside to a video screen.
- Medications -
- Analgesics - It helps in reducing the pain, but do not reduce the inflammation.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) - These prescription based drugs/creams helps in reducing pain and inflammation both. Although oral NSAIDs can cause stomach irritation and some might increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.
- Counterirritants - These are creams and ointments containing menthol or capsaicin which directly interferes with the transmission of pain signals from the joint after rubbing onto the skin.
- Biologics - Genetically engineered drugs to target multiple protein molecules which are involved in the immune response.
- Corticosteroids - It contains prednisone and cortisone to reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. These are oral medications and can also be injected directly into the painful joints.
- Therapy - Physical therapy, exercises can help and improve different types of Arthritis by strengthening the muscles around joints.
- Surgery - Surgery is suggested when non-surgical measures doesn’t help:
- Joint replacement - The damaged joint is removed and gets replaced with an artificial one.
- Joint fusion - Used for smaller joints, like in the ankle and fingers and wrist. It removes the ends of the two bones and then locks those ends together in the joint.
- Other Remedies -
- Weight loss - Losing weight can reduce the stress on weight-bearing joints.
- Exercise - Regular exercise, swimming and aerobics can help in keeping the joints flexible.
- Heat and cold - The joints pain can be reduced by heating pads or ice packs.
- Assistive devices - Walkers, raised seats and other assistive devices can help in protecting the joints.
- Acupuncture and Yoga - These might help in reducing pain and improve flexibility.
RISK FACTORS –
- Age - Older people are at more risk than young generations.
- Gender - It mostly affects women whereas Gout (complex form of Arthritis) is more common in men.
- Genetics and Inherited Traits - Genes play a major role in getting affected by rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematous (SLE), and ankylosing spondylitis.
- Approximately 350 million people suffers from Arthritis worldwide out of which 300,000 are babies and children.
- By 2040, 78 million people are expected to suffer from arthritis as per the survey.
- Osteoarthritis affects about 3.3% to 3.6% of the population globally.
- By causing moderate to severe disability in 43 million people, it is the11th most debilitating disease around the world.
- Rheumatoid arthritis generally starts between the ages of 30 and 60 in both men and women. The lifetime risk of developing RA is 3.6% in women and 1.7% in men.